MEDIA RELEASE: Parents, educators defend public schools against risky voucher scheme

A hearing at the Wake County Courthouse today is the latest event in the legal challenge against the state's unconstitutional voucher program

RALEIGH (February 17, 2014) — A voucher scheme that would rob underfunded schools of vital resources—without accountability to the public—threatens North Carolina's education system, say backers of a lawsuit that seeks to block the program's implementation. Today, a hearing on the case takes place at the Wake County Courthouse.

Several plaintiffs in the lawsuit have spoken out on different problems with the voucher scheme, both from legal and educational perspectives.
Mike Ward was the North Carolina Superintendent of the Public Instruction from 1997 to 2004. He has been a teacher, coach, high school principal, and local superintendent in North Carolina public schools. He is also a plaintiff.

He opposes the voucher program, Ward said, because it would shift public funds toward private schools that are not accountable to the public.

"In effect, the voucher program is financed by funds that would otherwise go to the public school system," said Ward. "I am opposed to this legislation because it shifts taxpayer funds, including my own, from the public schools to private schools that are not held to public standards nor accountable to the public.”

Another plaintiff is Dr. John Lucas of Durham. For more than 60 years, Dr. Lucas, 93, was an education administrator and leader in North Carolina schools. He was instrumental in founding the North Carolina Association of Educators, integrating the white North Carolina Education Association and the black North Carolina Teachers Association.

Lucas emphasized that tax funds should not be used to support private schools—especially since private schools are not held to the same anti-discrimination standards. "I expect schools funded with my taxpayer dollars to ensure that minority students are not excluded from attending, and are not discriminated against,” he said.

Judy Chambers, the mother of a sixth-grade student in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, pointed out that public schools have rigorous teacher qualification standards. Johnson has worked as a teacher's assistant in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, including work with children with special needs.

“In my experience as a teacher's assistant and a parent of a child in public school, I know that a standardized curriculum helps bridge the gap between children across the state and helps ensure that children are learning the same information regardless of where they live,” said Chambers. “This helps equalize the playing field for all children.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Christine Bischoff, NC Justice Center, christine@ncjustice.org, 919.856.3195; Carlene McNulty, NC Justice Center, carlene@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2161; Jeff Shaw, director of communications, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615.
 

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