Thursday, October 3, 2013

N.C. voucher applications open in February

North Carolina will start taking applications in February for new Opportunity Scholarships to help low-income families send their children to private schools,  according to an update on the plan that state lawmakers created this summer.

For 2014-15,  students who qualify for federal lunch subsidies -- currently $43,568 for a family of four  --  are eligible for up to $4,200 a year in public subsidy for tuition (aka vouchers).  About 2,400 students are expected to get the scholarships that year. In later years,  eligibility will rise to 133 percent of that threshold,  or $57,945 at current levels.

As many have noted,  that's not enough money to cover tuition at most Charlotte-area private schools.  And the March notification may come a bit late for families who have to make applications in January.

But for now, I'm excited to have found this much information to pass along.  I asked the N.C. Department of Public Instruction who would handle the applications and was referred to the College Foundation of North Carolina. I hadn't managed to find any kind of live contact on the CFNC web site or penetrate its automated calling system.

Then Craig Smith, an assistant principal at Gastonia's Ashbrook High,  tweeted me about a blog he posted exploring what happens if voucher money goes unclaimed  (he was told officials expect there to be plenty of demand).  That prompted me to tweet him  --  and @CFNC -- to ask about a contact for applications. CFNC steered me to the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority,  an agency I'd never heard of.  And that's the link to bookmark for updates on the Opportunity Scholarship front.


Anonymous said...

For Wiley's sake, I hope they audit this program and don't just take everyone's word that they are eligible for this.

Because we all know how easy it is to lie for those guvmint freebies.

Anonymous said...

Our tax dollars going to private schools. Yet, students at these schools don't have to meet the same standards and take the same state assessments as public school students. Public funds to private schools makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

For all you progressives, look on the bright side: In time your agenda can ride the coat tails of the 'public money' going into private schools and gradually force them to bend to your beliefs. I know this is the next logical step in the battle. I would caution any private institution to beware of students bearing public funds for they will open the door to big government intrusion into their affairs.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with government run schools.

Just as long as the government is in Finland.

Shamash said...

Anon 8:04 am.

According to the NCSEAA "Program Overview" (see the link in the article to their webpage)...

Nonpublic schools must administer a nationally standardized test to all scholarship recipients in grades three or higher at least once a year in English grammar, reading, spelling, and math.

Anonymous said...

The subject of vouchers has been around forever. Does anyone know of system like this that has actually benefited students on a long-term basis? CMS always seems to luck out on grand theory experimental freebies that produce minimal results. Maine is a state that has a successful history of public school/private boarding school partnerships - but we're not Maine. I don't know where I stand on this issue.


Unknown said...

For those that said public funds to private schools make you sick, my children have been in private school for 22 years between the two and I have paid every single dollar of tax into public schools that anyone else whose children attend public schools does but they haven't spent a dime on my the public schools are getting plenty of "free" money from all of us that choose not to send our children to public schools. And they do take yearly standardized tests..just like public schools. But the schools teach to benefit the kids, not so the schools can achieve a certain score on the tests as with EOGs. But they do quite well anyway.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for every private school in the area but I've never heard of one that doesn't administer a national standardized test at least once a year be it the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) - that my generation took back in the day - or the Standford series, or something else. Even private school parents who have major problems with NC state/NCLB testing requirements expect to see assessment results that show how their children are performing compared to other students across the country. If you're shelling out $10,000 - $20,000 a year, there better be some bang for the buck.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign my name.

Wiley Coyote said...


This is actually a chance to bypass the USDA's stronghold on not allowing verification of the school lunch program.

The state can require proof of eligibility independent of DSS or the USDA.

If they qualify, then by all means get the voucher.

Shamash said...

Alicia and Wiley,

I was just posting stuff I saw on that link that some apparently haven't read.

I saw on the link where they can require verification of eligi bility independently of USDA which should erase that FRL fraud concern.

I also noticed that they required a criminal background check only for the highest official in the school.

I guess that means that once you pick a "clean" leader, they are free to hire all the criminals they need for support staff ;)

Gotta love those government "regulations"...

So maybe that's just an example of the government camel's nose getting under the private school tent.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of getting cremated from all sides...

I can't imagine most area private schools rejecting low-income students with vouchers -in some token amount. However, it seems reasonable human nature that many hard working parents who are paying full tuition at a private school might come to resent large numbers of students attending their school with the benefit of public vouchers. How do public funds translate to public school legal rights in a private school setting? Think about it. It's an attorney's litigation dream. What about religious schools? How many private schools have actually bought into this latest reform idea?


Wiley Coyote said...


Not cremating you here, just pointing out that I'm sure these kids have to go through the same vetting process as everyone else who applies.

The color of money is green, no matter where it comes from...

Anonymous said...

Public school vouchers being well received with the paying private school crowd. Just don't see this happening on a large scale in Charlotte. Nope.

I predict additional calls for succession.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what the SPARK group thinks about this? You know, the coalition of people in the Ballantyne area (excuse me, the Providence area) who are upset about the urban-suburban disparity of public school funding to the point of campaigning against CMS' next bond referendum.


Anonymous said...

Last question...

What about some poor/economically disadvantaged rural NC kid stuck at a crappy public school that doesn't have access to a private school?


Anonymous said...

For those of you bleeding heart liberals upset with Private Schools, simple, do not send them there.

My wife and I work our tails off to send our children to private school. We also pay property taxes for the public schools, a resource we do not use. I will never allow my children attend the joke that is CMS. The entire system is one dysfunctional joke.

For those whining about the fact that Private schools do not take the same type of tests that Public schools do, again please educate yourselves before you spout off things that make you look less educated than a 5th grader. Why is it that Private School students receive more scholarships and do better on College Applicant tests than their counter parts in Public Schools? Anyone? Anyone?

Teach for the test, allow troubled students to be in classes when they should be in alternative schools, allow troubled parents to dictate to the schools as to what they should and should not be doing, essentially there are many parents that believe teachers should be teaching morals and values to their children as they shirk that responsibility at home. I know first hand as my mother taught for 38 years and she even confided that public schools are a joke in this day and age.

Educate yourselves on the indoctrination of your children under the what is now known as "COMMON CORE".

Anonymous said...

Alicia, as someone in the Ballantyne/Providence area, I use to like all your comments. But bashing how folks like me don't agree with the disparity of funds-you lost my support of your posts.
so you think its far that are kids are jammed into crowded classes and CMS is spending less than $5k while other schools get 3x that? This is the problem with CMS.


Anonymous said...

Look at the history of the opportunity scholarships and its foundation that a past school board person chairs and runs. Correct it does not pay all of the tuition. The family has to have "skin" in the game. This does it. That is exactly the type of student and family we need to get out of the warehousing that goes on in many neighborhood schools.

Wiley Coyote said...


The public school system is like the Postal Service, antiquated and slow to change.

Charters, home schooling, the internet and private schools are the UPS and FedEx-es to public schools.

Shamash said...

Personally, I've never cared much for vouchers.

What I'd rather see is a little tax-relief (perhaps a "credit") for those who choose to educate their children outside the public system.

So you're not exactly "funding" what may be a religious institution with public money as much as "de-funding" public schools for those who have chosen an alternative.

As for the schools themselves, I've seen studies showing that private schools are a motley crew.

Some are good, some bad. Private doesn't always mean better.

And among "religious" schools there is a pecking order of Catholic and Lutheran at the top and general "Protestant" near the bottom.

I think this comment from Anon 11:12am pretty much summarizes a big problem I see in public schools:

"allow troubled students to be in classes when they should be in alternative schools, allow troubled parents to dictate to the schools as to what they should and should not be doing".

Yep. That's certainly a problem.

Especially the misbehaving kids and parents who don't seem to want them to do well.

Anonymous said...

Shamash and Alicia, government schools, lowering the standards to the lowest.

Anonymous said...


Simple answer...Private schools can pick their students.

It's ironic when private school parents complain about paying taxes for schools they don't use, but have no problem paying for roads and bridges they don't use. Those who favor small government should support public education because a well-educated citizenry is less likely to use government services and vote for Obama.

amyo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amyo said...

Wylie said that "the public school system is like the Postal Service, antiquated and slow to change.

Charters, home schooling, the internet and private schools are the UPS and FedEx-es to public schools"

That's not a bad analogy, as long as you also observe that the postal system is charged with serving everyone, no matter how far away they live from other people, no matter how unprofitable the route, for the same rate.

Charter schools and private schools are not under the same obligations to serve the public good, in the way that public schools are. They have to take every kid who walks in the door, whether their parents are available to volunteer or not, whether the parents can get them transported to school or not, or whether the kids can afford to bring their own lunches or not (charter schools are able to get around all of these factors).

It would be nice to see what public schools could do if they weren't being jerked around at every level, but until we get over our mania for testing and our belief that teachers can do everything with nothing, it's hard to see that things will get better.

I believe in public education. I send my kids to public schools. Even if I could afford not to, I still would do so, because I think that rubbing shoulders with a cross-section of the other human beings you're going to live with is a good thing. Having choices is a good thing--but the bottom line is that we the people are responsible to provide a sound education to our citizens, including those whose parents are not their own best advocates.

I think we are going down a dangerous path when we allow our tax dollars to be funneled away (often to for-profit entities), because at some point the infrastructure for public education will become unstable--we are reaching a tipping point, in my opinion.

Amy Overbay

Shamash said...

Well, there's nothing that says government schools have to cater to the lowest denominator.

That's just the way our government decides to run things.

Or, rather, the way the PC crowd has strangled OUR government.

Other "government" run school systems are just fine.

Singapore, Korea, Finland, Japan, and probably all the school systems that beat ours are government run.

We just have stupid government.

Now, if ANYONE can name me a SINGLE COUNTRY where a PRIVATIZED school system produces top results for all its citizens, I'm all ears...

I don't necessarily blame "government" at this point.

Just ours.

Anonymous said...

Alicia, You need to pay a little more attention before posting snide comments about the positions taken by local groups regarding schools. SPARK was founded by Tom Davis in the Lake Norman area due to concerns about schools and funding in northern Mecklenburg County. SMART in far south Mecklenburg has similar concerns but I don't know how much anti-bond campaigning they are doing or how big their group actually is. (See Ann's September 30 post.) I know for sure though that parents north and south have legitimate gripes!
Also, do you mean succession or secession in your 10:50 post?


Shamash said...


While I understand what you're saying about public schools HAVING to take everyone.

I'm not convinced that this means we HAVE to accept their ill-mannered and destructive behavior.

That is at least one difference I see between OUR "government" schools and the "government" schools of more successful countries.

They don't take the crap that we do.

And yes, they have "poor" and "disadvantaged" kids, too.

Such as Korea and Poland

They just don't kiss their little A's and otherwise cater to their whims like we do.

How many times do we "suspend" kids and still let them hang around?

Way too many.

We need REFORM SCHOOLS for THAT crowd.

Shamash said...


I'm thinking of forming my own little education "reform" group called SNARK.

In this organization, nothing is sacred.

I'm currently its sole member, but our ranks are growing.

And since you are apparently losing many of your former "fans"...

You're welcome to join.

Anonymous said...

Amy, I also strongly believe in public schools and that's where my children went. But I'm not sure my grandchildren (age 4 and 1) will be doing the same. Why? Because while "rubbing shoulders with a cross section" is a noble idea, if some in that cross section are allowed to "take over", with their behavior becoming the norm and with standards downgraded to accommodate them, then that rubbing of shoulders is not doing anyone any good. And unfortunately that is what is happening in public schools. Could this be the reason why Anthony Foxx had his children in private schools?

Shamash said...

Anon 12:45.

100% in agreement.

This is another of the big problems we have in schools that no one has the guts to address seriously.


Sure, people like to blame those choosing to avoid bad behavior as being racist, classist, etc., etc.

But only a fool wouldn't do this.

We should NOT tolerate bad behavior in schools.

It's disruptive and a big reason serious people leave certain schools in droves.

Solve THAT problem and the "segregation" problem won't be nearly as "devastating" to public education.

(Or maybe even as necessary.)

After all, would most people continue to frequent even a FREE All-You-Can-Eat Buffet where you were just as likely to have a knife fight at your table as not?

I don't think so...

And yeah, it would eventually be filled with your basic scum of the earth fighting for scraps.

And I'm fairly sure the quality of the food would suffer as well.

Anonymous said...

"Now, if ANYONE can name me a SINGLE COUNTRY where a PRIVATIZED school system produces top results for all its citizens..."

Can you name another country that has the economic disparity that compares to the US? Can you name another country where the top 1% hold 20% of its earnings, yet 23% of its children live in poverty.

Of course, we shouldn't use poverty as an excuse. After all, being poor in Singapore is just like being poor in an inner-city ghetto.

Anonymous said...

1:02--What do you think the poverty rate is in Mexico, Brazil, most any African country, and on and on and on? And how do you think that poverty compares to the poverty we have in the US? (By the way, have you been following the plight of schools in Mexico lately?)

Shamash said...

Sure, I can name some countries which had "economic disparity" as bad or worse than ours.

Singapore about 40 years ago.

Poland LESS THAN 40 years ago.

Korea, etc., etc.,

BUT see how quickly they changed with the right reforms?

Still, you HAVE NO EVIDENCE that a privatized school system will produce overall better results.


No matter what excuses you make for our current situation being unique.

Sure, everyone is unique. There's nothing unique about that.

Anonymous said...

This is a terrible mistake to take public funds and to make them available to private schools. The irony to this, in which the General Assembly and Gov. Patty, need to be taken to task. They claim that NC does not have enough money to go around, but found enough for this program. They want to cut funding to public education (secondary and post secondary), but FOUND enough money for this kind of stuff.

Anonymous said...

We know all the folks with their "noble" ideas on how to run the school systems had not skin in the game. When one of the CO editors really blasted those that spoke out against forced busing, they had no kids in CMS and never experienced the behaviour issues the rest of us had to put up with.

Clearly Heath needs to rethink alternative schools but the race profiteers have him where they want with the help of the uptown crowd.

Shamash said...

Anon 1:17 pm.

From what I can tell Mexico is and has been a nightmare and is only getting worse.


Shamash said...

An interesting excerpt which helps explain the difference education can make in a country.

A comparison between what Korea and Mexico did and the end result.

Again, "good" government vs. "bad".


A withering documentary on the education crisis released in February, “De Panzazo” – “Barely Passing” – ponders why Mexico and South Korea took such divergent development paths.

In 1984, the two nations were on a par, with annual per capita income of $2,190, it says.

But South Korea has given far greater emphasis to education. Its sixth-graders spend more than twice as much time in class as their Mexican counterparts, it says.

By 2009, South Korea’s per capita income had soared to $19,830, while Mexico’s had risen only to $8,960.

Mexican teachers’ annual salaries are comparatively high, ranging from the equivalent of $15,658 to $42,621, far above the national average of $7,495.

Loyalty to the union trumps merit when it comes to raises.

Anonymous said...

Spelling is important. 50 lashes with a wet noodle before giving myself a 50% grade. Now, perhaps SPARK could learn how to read a map?

For the record, I voted against CMS school bonds in 2005 because there is a first - and hopefully last -time for everything. Sorry, Wiley.


Anonymous said...

Another terribly thought thru program by a bunch of idiots. I don't want to support another welfare program. What we the tax payers need is a voucher program that does not discriminate against anyone. Just offer it to all and give tax breaks to families who already send their kids to private school. The way it's written now it's useless ! VOTE NO BONDS ! Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...


I'm shocked!

Anonymous said...

Ann, could you please find out why some school have cafeteria monitors and others don't. It's either a state school board policy or a law that teachers are supposed to have duty-free lunch.

I'm thinking the legislature provided funding for cafeteria monitors, but may schools don't have them and teachers have to eat lunch while walking around the cafeteria monitoring students. So if there are funds provided and they are not used for hiring monitors, what happens to that money. And why do some schools get to have lunch monitors and others don't?

Anonymous said...

The state TeaRebugs have an agenda. Read about it in Diane Ravitch's latest book Reign of Error. On a train to nowhere....

Craig Smith said...

Thanks for referencing my blog, Ann. One needed correction: I am the Assistant Principal at Gastonia Ashbrook, not Hunter Huss.

Thanks to all for viewing my blog.

Shamash said...

For those who might be interested in Ravitch's book, Reign of Error, the Intro and first 3 Chapters can be previewed on Amazon.

And she summarizes a good bit of her ideas in her intro (or so she says).

Shamash said...

For the conspiracy theory crowd or those looking for a Bush behind every bush...

And a COW in every classroom.

(Who else could get both the Moonies and Saudis to fund a "venture" at the same time?)

Anonymous said...

Amy, I too am an advocate of public education, as I am the product of a great public education (circa 1970's-80's). Unfortunately it is a different world now, and many parents have removed themselves from the equation of Parents + students = academic success. When your children start being directly affected by "rubbing shoulders with a cross-section of the other human beings you're going to live with" you will think differently.

Anonymous said...

I always love it when bleeding-heart liberals decide that it's OK for the well-behaved children of others to continue living with the thugs and criminals in their midst.

All in the name of "diversity" and "fairness" of course.