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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Report reveals inequities in NC school voucher system

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Tuesday, April 2, 2024   

School vouchers in North Carolina were intended to expand educational options for low-income families. However, the report "NC School Vouchers: Using Tax Dollars to Discriminate Against Students and Families" reveals that private schools also have discretion in choosing which students they admit.

Public school advocates raise concerns about this, since the voucher programs are funded by taxpayers.

Heather Koons, communication director with Public Schools First NC, said there is a need for stronger protections against discrimination based on religion, disability, academic performance and LGBTQ+ identity. She said the report analyzes private school applications and public information, uncovering various reasons why students could be denied admission to private schools.

"The applications even said that we do not accept people from non-Christian denominations. They would say things like no families that believe in the Muslim faith, no Jewish families, no Latter-day Saints," she explained.

She added private schools in North Carolina have to follow the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin. However, they aren't required to follow other federal non-discrimination laws. This means they can refuse to accommodate students with disabilities or reject those who don't agree to the school's lifestyle rules.

Koons also pointed out other downsides of directing public funds toward private schools, citing issues with teaching standards, education standards and funding.

"The voucher program is sending tax dollars to schools that are completely unaccountable to the public," she contended. "So, there are no transparency requirements for finances for the schools and there's no accountability for academic performance."

Koons argues that revisions to discrimination policies for schools receiving vouchers are necessary to ensure equal opportunity for students.

"And that would mean expecting private schools to follow the same non-discrimination laws and be accountable for following those as the public schools," she says.

The report also suggests stopping funding for private schools that violate federal anti-discrimination laws and ending state funding for private school vouchers, in order to prioritize full funding for public schools.

According to the Education Law Center's recent Making the Grade report, North Carolina is ranked 48th in school funding, with funding per student almost $5,000 below the national average.

Disclosure: Public Schools First NC contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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