Friday, June 13, 2014

Voucher debate sparks civil rights rhetoric

It was no shock when the Republican-dominated state House voted down a proposal Thursday to pull the $10 million budgeted for Opportunity Scholarships and shift it to classroom teachers in public schools.  After all,  this was the group that voted last year to offer vouchers for low-income students to attend private schools.

But the most intense support of the scholarships came from two African American Democrats who co-sponsored the bill last year.  Reps. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford,  and Edward Hanes Jr.,  D-Forsyth,  argued that colleagues opposing the vouchers are denying children an alternative to failing schools.

Brandon said some public schools in his community can't meet the constitutional requirement to provide a sound basic education.

"That's not because we have bad teachers and it's not because we have bad principals,"  he said.  "It's because we have a bad system."

The amendment to shift voucher money to classroom teachers came from Ken Goodman, a Rockingham Democrat.  He said the state constitution is explicit about the obligation to provide a free public education,  and channeling public money to private schools does not meet that definition.

Some Republicans,  including Mecklenburg's Rob Bryan,  spoke for preserving the scholarships on the grounds of financial effectiveness.  Students who qualify can get $4,200 a year in state money for private school tuition,  less than it costs to educate them in public schools.

Brandon and Hanes accused Opportunity Scholarship opponents of hypocrisy if they voted for vouchers to send students with disabilities to private schools.  That program,  which offers up to $6,000 a year for tuition and special services,  passed in 2013 with less controversy than the income-based scholarships.  Brandon said children in his district  "may not roll up in wheelchairs,  but their needs are indeed special."

Hanes said some legislators,  including those  "in my caucus,"  send their children to private schools because they don't consider high-poverty,  low-performing schools acceptable for their own children.  But he said they want to deny that option to families who can't afford tuition.

"If students are forced to go to schools that are 99 percent free and reduced lunch,  I don't know how free that is.  I think those students are being taxed,"  Hanes said.  "There's nothing free when 99 percent of those students look like me."

The amendment failed 43-71.


Wiley Coyote said...

"If students are forced to go to schools that are 99 percent free and reduced lunch, I don't know how free that is. I think those students are being taxed," Hanes said. "There's nothing free when 99 percent of those students look like me."

That has to be about the most ridiculous comment I've ever heard.

And this one ranks up there at number two:

Brandon said some public schools in his community can't meet the constitutional requirement to provide a sound basic education.

"That's not because we have bad teachers and it's not because we have bad principals," he said. "It's because we have a bad system."

If teachers and principals aren't the problem, that leaves only one major component - kids and their parents.

Perhaps Brandon should define "system".

My guess is system = more money.

Anonymous said...

Good going Reds. The good republican conservative European Americans did the right thing again to save waste even as we see America now has a 20 trillion doubled national debt in DC and nothing whatsoever to show. These same democrat liberal African Americans were stopped cold in their mooching tracks to extort more free tax dollars off taxpayers to flush down the toilet.
Extorting more tax funds is not the answer and will not solve the problem.
Check you mirror for the cure.

David Knoble said...

We have to remember that the money to support vouchers reduced the funds going to the public school system. We also have to remember that since the vouchers were created our best NC teachers have been heavily recruited by other states willing to pay significantly more than NC pays. If we are not careful and do not fund our teacher salaries at reasonable levels (and I would argue that today's level is not reasonable), our best teachers will no longer be teaching our children in NC.

Anonymous said...

Wiley and 7:19 Anon, I believe you may be misreading the first paragraph (which could be written more clearly).

Last year Democrats Brandon and Hanes co-sponsored the Opportunity Scholarship bill (which, I believe) provides $10 million in state money for voucher scholarships. This was passed by the General Assembly (which has a Republican majority).

This year, Democratic Rep. Goodman suggested an amendment to the program that would have moved this money from vouchers to pay teachers. His amendment failed (and was criticized by Brandon and Hanes).

So Brandon and Hanes are in agreement with a majority of Republicans in the state that vouchers are a good thing. Goodman and other Democrats believe that monies should be instead spent on public schools and teachers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, 8:05. That's it exactly.

Wiley Coyote said...


I didn't misread the first paragraph.

I also understand the two African American Democrats support vouchers.

I commented on the lame quotes by these two gentlemen regarding "free lunches and taxes" and "having a bad system".

I agree the system is bad, but is his solution only vouchers?

Vouchers aside, what would he suggest we do to fix the bad system?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because we have bad parents and kids who refuse to try.

Maybe it's not the schools or the system at all...

Ghoul said...

The problems is not that NC teachers are paid too little, its that in the majority of the nation, teachers are paid too much. A recent Washington Post article noted that the average teachers salary in NJ was over $100,000. That is more than the average salaries for architects, lawyers, or even doctors in NC!

Teachers in Detroit and Chicago average more than $75,000, and yet graduate less than 30%, even with drastically reduced graduation requirements. When you can vote yourself a pay raise, you always will, but at some point you exceed your productivity and are overpaid.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, I couldn't agree more with you, what a joke!
"Neither the teachers or the principals are the problem", if that is the case, who else is left in the equation? Who is the problem?

No wonder our state so screwed up, with idiots like these two in office!

Shamash said...

"There's nothing free when 99 percent of those students look like me."

This is just a weird and somewhat (if not totally), racist argument.

Is he saying that 99% of the FRL students are black (which is how I interpret "look like me" in today's politically correct lingo)?

Or that only black kids are forced to go to schools that are 99% FRL?

Or is the reference to "look like me" some kind of bizarre non-sequitur?

Is he saying that this scholarship would help (or was designed to help) those kids who happen to look like him and that its repeal would only hurt kids who also happen to look like him?

If so, then aren't these "vouchers" also not "free" in the same sense that they benefit a specific racial group?

Or is the whole thing just a dumb argument from a desperate person?

Not that I think vouchers are a bad idea, but it sounds like he only wanted those vouchers to go to kids who "looked like him".

Which I don't think is such a great idea and at least doesn't appear to be the way those "scholarships" were set up.

But maybe he knows something about how those "scholarships" were going to be awarded that the rest of us don't.

Shamash said...

Anon 8:05am.

"So Brandon and Hanes are in agreement with a majority of Republicans in the state that vouchers are a good thing."

Actually, Hanes only seems to agree with Republicans when the vouchers are only good for getting poor black kids out of poor black schools.

Unless he means something other than black when he says "looks like me".

I'm not sure that's the same as agreeing with a majority of Republicans.

Anonymous said...

It is when we come to the proposed measures of relief for the evils which have caught public attention that we reach the real subject which deserves our attention. As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, B and C shall do for X. As for A and B, who get a law to make themselves do for X what they are willing to do for him, we have nothing to say except that they might better have done it without any law, but what I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. Perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. He is the man who never is thought of. He is the victim of the reformer, social speculator and philanthropist, and I hope to show you before I get through that he deserves your notice both for his character and for the many burdens which are laid upon him. Such is the Forgotten Man. He works, he votes, generally he prays-- but he always pays--yes, above all, he pays. He does not want an office; his name never gets into the newspaper except when he gets married or dies. He keeps production going on. He contributes to the strength of parties. He is flattered before election. He is strongly patriotic. He is wanted, whenever, in his little circle, there is work to be done or counsel to be given. He may grumble some occasionally to his wife and family, but he does not frequent the grocery or talk politics at the tavern. Consequently, he is forgotten. He is a commonplace man. He gives no trouble. He excites no admiration. He is not in any way a hero (like a popular orator); or a problem (like tramps and outcasts); nor notorious (like criminals); nor an object of sentiment (like the poor and weak); nor a burden (like paupers and loafers); nor an object out of which social capital may be made (like the beneficiaries of church and state charities); nor an object for charitable aid and protection (like animals treated with cruelty); nor the object of a job (like the ignorant and illiterate); nor one over whom sentimental economists and statesmen can parade their fine sentiments (like inefficient workmen and shiftless artisans). Therefore, he is forgotten. -William Sumner

My children, our family is the forgotten man. Make just enough to have a comfortable life, not enough to afford a private school, yet live in CMS district, yet make to much for any sort of voucher. What do we get? Where is our help? We must survive, parent our children, be frugal, cut coupons, pay our taxes and expect nothing in return from the education system. Where is our voucher I ask these legislators? Where is our help??

Shamash said...


Based on Hanes comments, I suspect the "system" is "bad" because it allows schools which are 99% black AND 99% free and reduced lunch to exist.

If, indeed, they do.

I'm not sure if that's true or not.

Sounds like hyperbole to me.

But we all know the classic tried and untrue solution to THAT problem.

It usually involves the TRANSPORTATION system.

And court orders, of course...

Shamash said...

Anon 10:33am.

'"Neither the teachers or the principals are the problem", if that is the case, who else is left in the equation? Who is the problem?'

That leaves parents and students, but, of course, we can't BLAME THEM EITHER.

Because they're the perpetual victims.

So, as he says, it must be "the system".

Or maybe "The Man".

Or "The Rich" as some suggested earlier.

Either way, it's usually someone else.

And someone with a lot of money who can pay for "more" of whatever someone else wants.

This is not the first time we've seen this line of argument.

It's like the "deep pocket" theory behind many frivolous lawsuits.

You don't sue the folks who wronged you, you sue the folks with the most money to pay to settle your ridiculous lawsuit no matter how marginally related they are to the REAL problem.

Unknown said...


Let’s suppose that all Republicans are filthy rich heartless captains of capitalism who operate as if those beneath them are barely worth acknowledging. They still need an educated workforce. If it’s not, then the only goods the magnates can manufacture will be easy targets for overseas sweatshops.

So the Republicans have to pony-up some education money…but those lumps of coal in their chests just can’t get warm enough. In the end they are all pre-Christmas day Scrooges.

Thank goodness nothing warms a politician’s heart like buying votes in an election year.

Bolyn McClung

Shamash said...

Anon 11:30am.

"Make just enough to have a comfortable life, not enough to afford a private school, yet live in CMS district, yet make to much for any sort of voucher. What do we get? Where is our help?"

Since the days of the last Ice Age (or at least the Great Depression), the answer has been pretty much the same.

You probably have to help yourself.

It's what my ancestors did and probably yours as well.

Like Okies and the Dust Bowl, you simply have to move away from the problem the best you can.

(South Carolina might not be a bad choice now, you know).

Anonymous said...

Looks like Hanes just played the Joker out of his deck of race cards.

Anonymous said...

while I am a supporter of public education, I am starting to see the bigger picture. The teachers, while doing the actual teaching get the shaft without any credit, while the principals who bounce from school to school get the gold and practically all of the credit. And in the case of CMS, is you suck as a Principal, you get promoted!

Anonymous said...

What absolutely befuddles me with this voucher program is this: most private schools cost more than $4000 a year. Most are $8000-$20,000 a year. If a family is so deserving of this voucher and comes up with the other half (lets go with the lower of $4000) that is still a lot of money for anyone that qualifies for the voucher. Where is the rest coming from? If they have that much extra per year, move to a better school district, do something for yourself and children. We as tax payers deserve to see all the tax paper work with anyone who is "deserving" of this voucher.

This voucher system is ridiculous in so many ways. prejudices against all others struggling, prejudice against those who make money, prejudice against the education system.

Shamash said...

"What absolutely befuddles me with this voucher program is this: most private schools cost more than $4000 a year."

What about religious private schools?

Aren't they usually cheaper or don't they offer discounts for some people like church members?

I suspect that this is the target, not the more expensive secular private schools.

Anonymous said...

Well Shamash, that would be illegal. Public monies for education in a religious sector completely goes against the separation of church and state.

Anonymous said...

2:43, these scholarships can go to religious schools.

Anonymous said...

2:43 the words "separation of church and state" are not found in our constitution.

Shamash said...

Anon 2:43

The reason I mentioned religious schools is that I went to the website for the scholarship and found the link showing a list of schools, of which MANY were religious:

In fact, I would say the vast majority of the schools in that list are religious based on their names.

I also watched a video where a father talked about how he was able to send his kids to a school which taught "his values" and the Bible.

So, I wasn't just pulling that possibility out of nowhere...

(It's just that people often complain when I cite all my sources, so I've learned to occasionally make unsubstantiated comments...)

Anonymous said...

It our wired hillbilly state would just have a normal teacher pay plan and stuck with it. I do not have anything against vouchers or school choice. I moved here because I liked my local school. My wife and kids like it. We are loosing five teachers this year. It is not that big of a school. Some teachers in the pick up line yesterday where talking about interviews over summer. NC should have a plan for teachers. Are teachers paid too much up north? Probably. NC will always loose good teachers to the north. We are now loosing teachers to Virginia,Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina.

Shamash said...

But I do agree that we should know who gets this money and how much they are getting as a part of transparency.

I do suspect that a LOT of it goes to religious schools, though, based on the list.

And just how many "Reverends" are benefitting from these funds.

It would be interesting to know if there is an issue with that, too.

Perhaps another day.

Shamash said...

Anon 2:48pm

"the words 'separation of church and state' are not found in our constitution."

Neither are "public schools"...

Anonymous said...

I used to wander why teachers kept asking for raises. I talked to my daughter's teacher and found out about the frozen pay. Seven years without a plan is awful. They are all just frozen. I looked at their pay before the freeze. It really wasn't very good. It is sad that NC has let it get so low. Something needs to be done. We need some real leadership in this state.

Zoolander said...

I'm hearing a lot about teacher pay and wondering why over half the teachers at my son's CMS elementary school are making between $56,000 - $76,000. That includes PE, Art, curriculum facilitators, K, 1, 2, teachers. That sounds like a lot of money to me, and working only 10 months a year, with many days off throughout the school year. Why all the complaining?

Anonymous said...

Nationally teacher tenure is also sparking a civil rights discussion. A California judge just ruled that tenure is unconstitutional because it punishes children by keeping incompetent or unmotivated teachers in their jobs. The judge cited evidence that teacher job protection laws "disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students."

The pay may be lower in NC, but tenure is alive and well here. White children in NC are often able to attend private and charter schools, where more accountability exists and tenure is not practiced. Minority children tend to attend the regular schools, where teacher jobs are protected by the practice of tenure (or by "due process," as it's known euphemistically).

This is not a story that the left-leaning media likes to tell because it makes the Democratic party appear morally bankrupt. Democratic politicians claim to be interested in civil rights, but they get their money from the unions whose first priority is job protection.

Shamash said...

H'mmm. I think I smell an agenda here...

Checking THIS list of applications for the scholarship:

It appears that two of the most popular schools are Islamic.

Greensboro Islamic Academy - 170 applications

Al-Iman School - 86 applications

Well, now I guess we can see why this was presented as a "black" thing by its supporters.

It would be interesting to see just how much of this scholarship money goes to religious schools.

If it is allocated "fairly", i.e., at random, then I'd suspect (without doing a formal tally)that most of it does.

Anonymous said...

Pay has been frozen since BEFORE the Republicans took over. Let's call it like it is: Forced bussing and later the infamous "equity" formula have failed to make a dent in the ALL IMPORTANT but still elusive " achievement gap." Taxpayers are frustrated, disgusted, fed up. Who can blame them?

Anonymous said...



The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Anonymous said...

It's Due Process in NC, this is NC, a right to work state with a history of killing union wannabes (Loray Mill). Evidently you haven't been in a CMS school where staff (teachers included) disappear regularly for Facebook comments, meltdowns, poor performance, slapping out of control students during school emergencies, and hundreds of other "issues" HR has swept under the rug since I started in the mid 70's. Unless you have legal representation, good luck on that "Tenure" hokum.
Good luck also on that accountability with the for profit Charter models.

Anonymous said...


I would love to make 56,000 per year. I am making the same as a starting teacher after 5 years at $35,000. With no hope of a raise. Teaching is a second career. I am early fifties and do not have enough time left to make that amount of money - that is if they ever unfreeze the steps. What is frustrating to me is that after teachers have a few years of experience, they are as effective as veteran teachers. It perplexes me that people essentially doing the same job proficiently are paid with such disparity. Experienced teachers with more years make at least $15,000 more per year than me - but we both do the same job and have the same expectations for proficiency. When people quote the average salary of teachers at 45,000 it does to truly illustrate the numbers of proficient, hard working teachers with years of experience stuck at the starting salary. Each year my health insurance goes up. I pay $1,000 per month - 1/3rd of my salary for my families health insurance. I can't afford to stay teaching.

Shamash said...

Anon 9:13pm.

Amendment X. Right.

So if it's NOT in the Constitution, it can STILL be law somewhere else (states, people, etc.)

Often, the Supreme Court rules on these things and makes them the "law of the land".

That's how we got public schools AND state/church separation rulings.

Even though neither are mentioned in the Constitution.

Like it or not (and whether in the Constitution or not), those laws STILL exist.

That's exactly how we got prayers "banned" in schools.

And mandatory education for Chinese in California.

It's called interpretation.

The Constitution is NOT the ENTIRE law of the land word for word.

But it can be used to create or enforce new laws based on interpretation and sometimes whim.

Even you should know that since you quoted Amendment X.

Shamash said...

Here's what I'm talking about...

The REAL issue.

It's NOT a "black" thing.

"As can be seen from the findings about private schools in North Carolina, the voucher recipients – who need not show that the public schools they are leaving are low-performing or that their children are poorly served there – will nearly all be choosing very small, unaccredited religious schools with uncertified teachers and a nonstandard curriculum.

These “choice” schools will remain, as they are now, unaccountable to the public."

Shamash said...

"What absolutely befuddles me with this voucher program is this: most private schools cost more than $4000 a year."

Yep. Just as I suspected, this "black" thing is a red herring.

It's really about funding private religious schools and other schools with little oversight.

• The average tuition of private day schools in North Carolina is $6,690.

• Only 35 percent of schools charge tuition that could be fully paid by a voucher (i.e., $4,200 per year or less). Of those schools, more than 90 percent are religious schools. At the middle and high school level, about 95 percent are religious schools.

• About 70 percent of the schools have no accreditation from any type of independent agency.


I'm not sure this is a BETTER use of public money than the existing public schools.

Why trust these people?

And why drag race into it?

Anonymous said...

5:04.. That's not the norm. My buddy has taught 12years and doesn't even make 40. He has not had a real raise in seven years. Some older teachers where frozen at a higher pay scale. The 30 something's with families seem to be taking the hardest hit. His pay is the same as it used to be for a fifth year teacher. I am trying to get him to go to South Carolina. When I moved here my taxes were cut in half. I love my kids school and the teachers aren't going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Schools should be implemented at the local level. Not federal, state or county. The further away decision makers are, the worst things get. Look at CMS and all the competing interest. This would be real reform. I think vouchers and charters are fine. I don't think it's a real long term solution. Sweden is having trouble with it's voucher system and they started at a better point and is a much smaller country. Teachers need a pay plan and away forward or NC will continue to be a revolving door. The highly paid teachers frozen at the top have 20 to 30 years in. Soon they will retire. The system will be left with? If we had smaller more flexible districts with less bureaucrats, different areas would have already tried different pay plans. Similar towns with similar issues could learn from one another. Bigger is not always better.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping practical Republicans would fix the teachers pay issue. I was surprised by last summers legislation. It seemed out of touch with the needs of NC. I agreed with getting rid of tenure until I researched what "tenure" meant in NC. It is really just basic documentation and a third party review. It's nothing like California or New York. It's not much different then any large organization. Sometimes bad manager's or principals will be hired. You don't want to lose good employees or teachers over a poor leadership issue. From other articles I have read, North Carolina principals do not have a problem with tenure. This is not the case in California or New York. I believe NC needs to focus on NC. Being a Republican, I believe local issues should be solved by local constituent's.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind religious schools getting funding. I don't mind vouchers. I think teachers should get a raise and have a solid pay plan. The courts never should have been given the amount of power they have. The courts have been loaded with activists judges that care not for the constitution. The courts are part of the problem with public education. Catholic schools have always done a good job. I'd rather see my kid go to Steubenville University then Stanford.

Anonymous said...

we would need to replace the current republicans in the legislature with those practical ones you suggest.

how, exactly, have they met their campaign promises?

Anonymous said...

once the voucher program is approved, and make no mistake, it will be. There will be plenty of little $4,000 private schools popping up all over the state. Just as we see with charter school management companies, where there is money to be made, the service will be provided.

Shamash said...

Anon 5:46pm.

I have no doubt that "service" will appear for $4000 a head.

It already has.

But without proper supervision, it is just as likely to be worse as better than what we currently have.

I'd like some proof that the vouchers are going to a BETTER education than the public one they are leaving behind.