MEDIA RELEASE: New report: Decades of research shows failure of public money for private schools

“Neovoucher” proposals like NCGA’s will neither increase student performance nor provide meaningful choices for low income families

RALEIGH (April 24, 2013) – Student achievement would suffer under education voucher proposals being advanced by the NC General Assembly, a new report says.

Drawing upon decades of research and information from contemporary experience in states around the country, the report from the NC Justice Center’s Education & Law Project says that neovoucher proposals will not improve educational options for low income families, but will undermine the educational experience of North Carolina’s students.

“[A] growing body of research shows that public schools do a better job of educating students, especially students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have special needs, or are struggling academically,” writes author Matthew Ellinwood in the report.

In spite of the increasing popularity of neovouchers in legislatures across the country, research on existing voucher and neovoucher programs demonstrates that academic achievement does not improve for students who utilize them, says the report.

The problems are especially apparent for low-income and minority students, the report says. Voucher and neovoucher proponents advance these schemes as a way to improve educational options for low- income and minority students, but low-income students are often unable to meaningfully participate in these programs because of the way they are structured.

Despite the evidence, these proposals have been a recurring theme in the NC state legislature. During the current legislative session, state policymakers have introduced legislation that would create a new tax credit program for homeschooled students (House Bill 144) a voucher-like scholarship grant program for students with disabilities (House Bill 269), which would replace an existing tax credit program, and a voucher-like private school scholarship for families who fall below 300% of the federal poverty level (House Bill 944). In 2011, a bill that would have given a tax credit to corporations that donated to a voucher-like scholarship program for private-school tuition failed in committee.

These policies are commonly termed “neovouchers” because they serve the same essential function as traditional vouchers but are an attempt to circumvent the constitutional separation of-church-and-state issues that arise when public money is funneled primarily to religiously affiliated private schools.

“The evidence is clear: proposals like these undermine student achievement and weaken our public schools – without providing quality schooling options for families,” said Ellinwood. “Experience has shown again and again that public schools are the foundation of strong student achievement. North Carolina should create a high-performing educational system by renewing its commitment to public schools rather than by encouraging families to opt out of them.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:  Matt Ellinwood, matt@ncjustice.org, 919.861.1465; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications,jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).

 

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