School vouchers for 360 low-income and minority students have been deemed unconstitutional by North Carolina Judge Robert Hobgood. The program was staunchly opposed by teacher unions and atheist groups. Judge Hobgood’s ruling on the Opportunity Scholarship program was handed down just a week after parents of the poor and minority students were awarded $4,200 school choice grants.
Last year, North Carolina Republican lawmakers created the school vouchers program and set aside $10 million for the low-income students. The initial funding was designed for use during the 2014-2015 school year. Additional funds later allocated to expand the school choice program for next year.
Teachers unions and public school administrators reportedly feared that the students who had been awarded school vouchers would opt to leave the failing schools in primarily black communities. Democratic Party leaders also voiced opposition to the school choice program, prompting some to feel the move was designed to appease teachers unions. The education unions are typically large donors in Democratic political campaigns.
The North Carolina school vouchers program allowed parents to essentially shop around and choose the best academic fit for their child. Teachers unions, atheist groups, and others who oppose the school choice program, deemed the application process involved tantamount to a discriminatory practice.
The Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Louisiana Federation for Children conducted a poll of parents with school voucher students involved in the program instituted by Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. The survey revealed that 91 percent were “satisfied” with bot their child’s academic performance and new school. The school choice poll also showed that 98 percent of parents felt their child was welcomed and felt safe at their new education facility.
Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina President Darrell Allison referred to Judge Hobgood’s school vouchers as just a “temporary roadblock.” Allison feels that higher courts will reinstate the voucher program and take the side of the low-income minority students and their parents.
The North Carolina school voucher program supporter also had this to say about the court ruling which, at least temporarily, halted the program:
“Today’s decision is disappointing but we’re glad we can now quickly appeal to the highest court to help many Opportunity Scholarship students who have already begun their school year and been thrown into disarray. Our organization is now hearing from parents across the state as to what they need to do for their child right now. We have no other choice, at this moment, but to continue pushing forward to have this appeal sent to the North Carolina Supreme Court as quickly as possible. The Supreme Court overturned a previous temporary injunction ruling once before this year and I am confident they will do the same in this case which will allow the Program to move forward until the merits of the case can be heard. We feel confident that a decision will not only be made quickly, but the outcome will be favorable on behalf of the nearly two thousand parents and students who remain helplessly in limbo until then.”
What do you think about the North Carolina school vouchers program for minority and low-income children?
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