Thursday, July 25, 2013

Will vouchers spur new schools?

Will North Carolina see a spurt of new private schools opening in 2014-15,  when $4,200  "opportunity scholarships"  become available for low-income students?

Superintendent Heath Morrison,  no fan of sending public money to private schools,  says the Florida system that served as the model for North Carolina's new vouchers sparked a round of new private schools,  some of which closed or did a poor job of educating students.  Jonathan Sink,  the CMS legislative liaison,  said he'd expect to see area churches open schools to take advantage of the scholarships.

Morrison noted with skepticism that $4,200 a year isn't enough to cover tuition at most private schools in the Charlotte area.  The most prestigious schools,  such as Charlotte Country Day,  Charlotte Latin and Providence Day School,  run about $20,000 a year.  A study by the pro-voucher Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina pegged Mecklenburg's median tuition at $7,750 to $9,565,  depending on grade level.

Tom Franz,  head of Trinity Episcopal School in uptown Charlotte, says the scholarships will help students from families of modest means get an education at established, successful private schools.  Trinity,  where tuition is about $15,000 a year,  provides financial aid to many students,  he said,  but it's seldom enough to cover the family's full need.  A state scholarship coupled with Trinity's aid might help more students be able to stay for several years.  "This is the kind of thing that makes it doable and affordable for families,"  Franz said.

Everyone's still figuring out the details of the new program,  but Franz said it appears to be similar to the privately-funded Children's Scholarship Fund,  which he considers a successful approach.  Most independent schools aren't interested in government money if it comes with strings attached,  Franz said,  but the opportunity scholarships appear to leave the decision-making to the independent boards that run the schools.

Franz agrees with Morrison that the opportunity to get public money may inspire new schools to open,  and that some of them may be poor quality.  The same could be said of new charter schools springing up,  he said  --  some will be excellent and some will be weak.

Charter schools,  like traditional public schools,  must give their students state exams and be rated on the results  (A-F letter grades will debut in August 2014).  Morrison questioned why private schools that take tax money won't be held to the same accountability standards.

Darrell Allison,  president of PEFNC,  says vouchers aren't likely to inspire successful students to leave good public schools.  Instead,  he says,  it's a chance for students who aren't thriving to leave schools that aren't serving them well.  And his group contends that if a student gets a better education for $4,200 in public money  --  compared with more than $8,000 per pupil in public schools  --  it's not only a good deal for the family but for taxpayers.


Wiley Coyote said...

Superintendent Heath Morrison, no fan of sending public money to private schools, says the Florida system that served as the model for North Carolina's new vouchers sparked a round of new private schools, some of which closed or did a poor job of educating students.

...annnnd this is any different than public education?

Detroit....Chicago and yes, CMS.

Anonymous said...

So tax money can now go to schools that teach religion?

Anonymous said...

Once again this puts middle class students at a disadvantage. I cannot afford to send my children to private school however my income places us just outside the threshold for receiving this handout. This simply translates into my wife and I working hard, paying taxes and affording an opportunity for other children that mine cannot have. I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes however I have a problem giving providing a free private education for another child when it won't be provided for mine.

Anonymous said...

Check and see, but I think that the state has already pulled money from public education to cover this new voucher. So what happens when the money isn't all spent on vouchers because people that qualify still cannot afford the difference in tuition? Does that money go back to the public school system? This is more damage to CMS waiting to happen, IMO.

Anonymous said...

I agree with offering the vouchers to every one . Not just low income families. The people that have left CMS still are some of the highest tax bracket payers. They deserve value for what they pay in. This is a TERRIBLE first draft of this project and down the road I hope they get this right. Its a very biased draft and surprised that it passed. It discriminates against the upper class who foots the bill. Heath is afraid the state will go deeper next year and he is probably correct. Another 2-3 years I doubt it matters to him as he will be packing. Keith W. Hurley

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

Where is the money comnig from to provide these "opportunity scholarships"?

The General Assembly is fussing all the time that they don't have the money for any additional spending, so where is this money coming from to provide $4200 a year for students to attend private schools?

This political party has never believed in public education. They are driven by the free market system. They figure, why isn't someone making money off secondary education? And competition will only improve results in education, just like in the free market. Yet education does not operate like that because public education leads and creates a public good. It is highly valued and contributes a great deal to society. If only those with the money had access to education, what would our nation look like? Well, you don't have to guess; just take a look back out our history to find out the answer prior to public schools.

Anonymous said...

10:09- I have a idea were they can get the voucher money. Remove it from the amount the state gives CMS by the amount of the vacations that the BOE takes on tax payer dime. Then cut the leaders salary to what he is worth $200,000 maybe annually. Cut the PR department budget out from state funds and limit the number of Heaths VP's running around town. That adds up to over $1,000,000 thats just our county. The state is only giving out $5,000,000 so revenue flat. Its less money the state has to dole on average $8,200 to a CMS seat. Thats Heath Morrisons issue since it will make him look bad for less. A little competition keeps everyone in check in the real world .

Wiley Coyote said...


The last time CMS tried to do an audit (2008) of the School Lunch Program, there were 59,000 students receiving benefits. Today there are about 76,000.

The audit conducted showed 60% did not qualify based on answers provided. Projected out over the student population receiving benefits, that comes out to 35,400 "potentially" not qualifying.

CMS was getting $34 MILLION from the USDA for the program at the time, so doing the math, the potential fraud or overpaid funds amounts to approximately $20,400,00 Dollars.

According to the US Census in 2010, there were 31,871 5 to 17 year olds in poverty out of a total of 165,212 in Mecklenburg County.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the gross amount of waste and fraud in this program - JUST in Mecklenburg County - and how far 10 to 20 million dollars in fraudulent funds could go towards teacher salaries and assistants.

Anonymous said...

My word people can be dense. The republican argument is something like this:
-public schools need to act like businesses, competing with each other, cutting costs on the backs of their workers and 'reducing overhead' by providing fewer textbooks and computers.
-private schools, on the other hand, should be free from 'burdensome regulations' and be given taxpayer money.
-So it's okay to spend $20k per student per year on crappy schools as long as they're private, plus a $5k voucher, but spending even half that on public schools is a waste of money.
I've never figured out republicans don't spend all day doubled over in pain from the cognitive dissonance.
At the same time, this coupon for religious schools, only benefits the people that could already afford to send their kids to a private school, but don't want to sacrifice their vacation money on it.

Anonymous said...

Only a Republican (or a real jerk) would seriously think that the problem is that we just feed too many kids to0 much food. You want waste, fraud and abuse, Wiley, why do the elite private schools charge $20,000 a year or more to educate kids and yet CMS spends less than half that? Are you really naive enough to think that they are getting twice the education?

If CMS is so wasteful with our money, what does that say about private schools who have exactly zero accountability to the taxpayers? We don't think CMS is using revenues wisely, we can audit them. You think the parochial schools will agree to the same transparency?

Wiley Coyote said...

The Democrat argument goes something like this:

- We need to keep the status quo at all cost
- We must protest every chance we get to remind government that they are they owe us bacon
- We must keep our children dumbed down and in poverty, single mother households with no fathers involved
- We must deny and deflect ANY and ALL attempts by anyone not a Democrat to fix the sorry state of public education the US, as it has not worked for 45 years.
- We love our status quo

So much for "Moral Mondays" when kids are being gunned down every day in Charlotte, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, etc. and continue to be born to other kids and out of wedlock.

Wiley Coyote said...


Sometimes people like you can't handle facts, which is typical for Democrats.

Here's another FACTOID for you.

According to the USDA, children on the NSLP THROW AWAY $2 BILLION in food each year.

Put that in your liberal pipe and smoke it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the solution is to attach the amount we spend per child to that child in forms of a voucher, and let the parents choose the school, public, charter, private, religious, etc. for that child.

If a school doesn't get enough kids because it performs terribly, we shut the school down because nobody attends.

How much do we spend per pupil today in CMS, or on average in the state? How much is spent on administrative costs, or iPads? Remember the tens of millions spent on iPads just a couple years ago? Came out to about $850/iPad, and thousands were purchased.

Teachers need to get paid fairly, and they need to teach well. There needs to be more accountability, but the left seems more interested in spending money without getting results.

Anonymous said...

The Democratic argument goes something like this:
-Teachers should be paid a living wage that reflects there education and experience just like industry. That they are more educated than you is no reason to throw a childish temper tantrum.
-Students benefit from an education directly through increased earning potential, but the benefit to society is even greater. That's why education should be free, full, and fair and benefits even those taxpayers without children.
-Teachers should be able to bargain for their own contracts, just like everyone else in the private sector. If you chose to not bargain, that's you're problem.

Lastly, I feel that someone needs to apologize on behalf of all your teachers. Clearly, they did not do all they could to reach you, teach you to reason, and to teach you that throwing away lima beans procured from the lowest bidder is not the same thing as giving public money to private individuals to pad their extravagant lifestyles. For that you need Republicans and their tax policies.

Anonymous said...

there is nothing wrong with public schools having a little competition from private schools, and the vouchers can help provide it,
but I agree with someone else who commented it is not fair for the middle class to have to pay taxes for the program but not be eligible for a voucher.

Anonymous said...

My Dear Mr. Coyote,

A counter to your FACTOID (love the hyperbole):
According to the USDA, the average American wastes about 30% of the food. (31% in 2010)

According to the NSLP, plate waste varies by age group but ranges between 5% and 15%.

In other words, the kids on NSLP are wasting much less food than just about everybody else. And they're counted in the total for all Americans, so it must be coyotes like you that are really throwing away the bacon.

By the way, you're still not answering the central question: Is starving these kids the answer to school budgets? Or is giving private schools the money the solution to getting kids to waste less food?

Yes, it's sad that that's BILLIONS OF DOLLARS of WASTE, but maybe there are other ways to save BILLIONS OF DOLLARS than to THROW AWAY money so that upper-middle class kids to go to religious schools on the taxpayer dime.

Wiley Coyote said...


Is it fair for me to pay for:

FREE school lunches even though my son was not eligible?

FREE AP/IB testing for those on FRL even though my son didn't qualify for FRL?

FREE sports where I had to pay $100 for my son to play a varsity sport where those on FRL get to plat for free?

EXTRA tax dollars spent on Title I students even though the school lunch fraud jacks up that number and my son had less per pupil spent on him?

A school system that has done a miserable job for over 40 years under diversity driven programs at all cost that have FAILED and continue to FAIL?

Anonymous said...


Is it fair? YES. That's why we're a society and not a bunch of club wielding thugs living in caves. Having a society that is educated and not starving benefits even you.

Wiley Coyote said...


People want funds. $2 BILLION in thrown away food in the NSLP and another $1.5 BILLION in overpayments is a lot of money that could be going to teachers and other programs.

There is also about $800 million in SNAP fraud, another food program.

The 31% of total food wasted in the US is true but my facts are related to wasted funds and food that are driven by kids in schools.

Nothing you posted is counter to what I originally stated.

Also, you might want to look at who will get the voucher money. It isn't upper middle class kids.

Wiley Coyote said...


The problen is, they are not being educated.

Look at the facts.

Wiley Coyote said...

H.B. 944

SECTION 6. Notwithstanding the requirements of G.S. 115C-562.1(2)b., as enacted by this act, for the 2013-2014 school year, a student must reside in a household with an income level not in excess of two hundred twenty-five percent (225%) of the federal poverty level to qualify as an eligible student.

225% of the poverty level for a household of 4 is $51,863 per year(2012).

For a family of 8, it's $87,503 per year.

Anonymous said...

What does food have to do with Republicans wasting tax dollars on private schools? Isn't the issue that we're crippling public schools (which, strangely, are funded seperately from federal food programs) while giving public money to private schools?

Shamash said...

What does fraud in the FRL program have to do with feeding HUNGRY kids?

Sounds to me like it's just feeding kids with DISHONEST parents.

Surely we have some stake (as a society) in keeping people receiving handouts HONEST...

Wiley Coyote said...


Title I funds are directly tied to poverty numbers and the school lunch program.

That's why every school district tries to sign up as many as they can.

...Individual schools receive Title I funding based on the percentage of students that are eligible for the federally subsidized free-lunch program. Though the lunch program is designed to provide food to low-income students who might otherwise go hungry, its guidelines do not require schools to verify the parental income of students who enroll. The process to qualify for a free lunch comes down to parents self-reporting their income on a form that is turned in to their local school.

Anonymous said...

Morrison is crying now that families can choose a school if they are zoned to a bad one with a voucher taking from his pot of gold. Maybe if he paid good teachers to be in those schools it would be a different story. Their is more than one casino in Reno Heath correct?

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, Mr. Coyote's son went to a high school where there were club wielding thugs. My offspring had the great honor to attend the same school as well. Worse, however, was the night a local charter school's thugs came to the public school to create havoc at a basketball game. This charter school still exists to take these new benefits, yet has provided little in academics, but like UNC, solid basketball.

Wiley Coyote said...


Every school has thugs. Some more than others.

Anonymous said...


Pay Teachers More and Bring Back Their Benefits.

Common Goal for a Common Core

Anonymous said...


Teachers leaving CMS for better teaching jobs in other states and private sector.

NC now is 51st and falling (If Possible)

Keep smiling MOrrison and BofE. You will be hard pressed to continue the lies, smoke and mirrors. Teachers (1-6) in career status are not as niave as you think and will not be beaten as rented mules. They see the bonus money that the administrators receive all the while their salary and benefits are REDUCED every year.

Best and Brightest is only tonged and cheeked by you. The real workers, those that have the most contact with the children, have had enough.


Anonymous said...

With $4200 the moochers can almost afford to send their offspring to Hickory Grove Baptist School.

Anonymous said...

It's true that North Carolina has modeled their program after Florida's, but that's because Florida has seen great success with their school choice tax credit program. An independent study by a researcher from Northwestern found that participating students experienced academic gains when they transferred to their school of choice. Additionally, it's good for public schools too. Students utilizing Florida’s choice program are shown to be the most academically behind and the most economically disadvantaged before changing schools. When they transfer, this alleviates some of the pressure and resources required of public schools. Finally, Florida has seen substantial state savings due to their school choice program. Florida is estimated to save $60 million just this year. These savings are then redistributed to the public schools, much like the stated intent of North Carolina's Opportunity Scholarship Act. To me, this seems like a great program that benefits participating students, public schools, and the state budget.