The North Carolina News Observer reported that the state school voucher program was found to be unconstitutional by Judge Robert Hobgood. It’s rare to see such a powerful decision. It is clear what the law was meant to do: gut the public education system. This is always what conservative education “reform” is about.
According to the article, of those requesting vouchers, the majority were for religious schools. “Also, private schools do not have to give state exams or meet public school regulations.” So in addition to harming the public schools, the law was also a gift to the Christian conservatives who are afraid that their children might be taught real science or real history. I’m sure even Jonathan Chait would see the mendacity behind this kind of reform.
According to qnotes, “Hobgood also ruled that the new scholarship program pushed public money to schools that can discriminate in admissions and are not required to maintain curriculum or teacher certification standards.” This goes along with the hypocrisy that Digby noted among conservative education reformers. They are obsessed with the effectiveness of unionized teachers, but they don’t give a thought to just how horrible parent teachers or, in this case, religious educators might be.
Note that this isn’t just about conservative education reform. This says something very important about the education reform movement generally. Like a lot of liberals and moderates, those in the education reform movement take their cues from the conservatives. Now they wouldn’t be in favor of anything as egregious as this North Carolina law. But their focus on “ineffective teachers” and destroying due process employment rights for teachers (“tenure”), is not a focus they came to all by themselves. The big money and the conservative base was pushing it and the liberals went right along with it.
What I see happening is that in the end, teachers unions will be neutered. Teachers will have much less independence and job security. But at best children won’t get any better an education. So a huge effort on the part of liberals will not accomplish their goals, but will accomplish the goals of disingenuous conservatives. It seems to me that there is another educational problem in this country that is getting in the way of improving the education of our children: liberals are being educated by conservatives. I’m sure smart conservatives are tickled that so many liberals are helping them do their dirty work. But this wouldn’t be the first time that large segments of the Democratic Party acted as useful fools for the Republicans.