Ensuring a Quality Education For All NC Students
In the U.S. there are 23 voucher programs, 18 tax credit programs and six education savings account initiatives. North Carolina’s K-12 voucher program is called the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The N.C. State Education Assistance Authority awards $4,200 per student to the K-12 school of their choice. The on-line application period begins on Feb. 1, 2016 at www.ncseaa.edu and is based on income.
Nationwide there are 6,700 public charter schools with 2.9 million students attending those schools. Although charter schools have more regulations than traditional public schools, they seem to be thriving, one school at a time. About 1.77 million children are home-schooled.
But across the U.S. taxpayers are still spending $600 billion per year supporting public school monopolies that are not sensitive to the resources spent. This could be compared to a single provider system in health care (the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare”.)
The problem in North Carolina is the way we fund our schools. School dollars are not reported in a way that’s transparent or easily understood. Spending at the school level is not tracked and principals have very little autonomy over their budgets. N.C. is the only state that decides the number of school-based positions based on student enrollment, known as “position allotments”. Funding should be portable and attached to students.
Research by The Reason Foundation has shown that when school districts allow the principal to control 25-50% of the budget, higher academic achievement results. With school choice in place, principals know students can leave, taking the money with them, so there is an incentive to provide educational services that entice them to stay. This could work in our state, too. In a few months, the Reason Foundation will release the results of a study of North Carolina’s educational system and their recommendations.
While North Carolina is moving in the right direction, our Republican-led legislature must replace Common Core standards and continue to research reform efforts in order to improve educational outcomes.
Let’s take a look at their guiding principles, the 2015 N.C. Republican Party Platform for Education:
Parents have the right to educate their children and should expect excellent public education. All children should have access to an education that empowers them to reach their full God-given potential and contribute to the betterment of our society. Allowing choice and competition insures quality education. We support incentives for parents who educate their children in private or home schools. We support the expansion of charter schools and vocational curricula.
Education reform requires local control of curriculum, budget, textbooks and personnel. Parents must have access to all curricula and data about their children, including content that is stored on classroom tablets and computers.
All reform should be aimed at improving student achievement. Reform requires nationally normed testing, cutting administrative waste and facilitating alternate teacher certification. Students must have the best teachers, whether physically present or by use of technology. Teachers should be paid and promoted based on the quality of their work, not exclusively on longevity. Quality should be determined not only by raw test scores, but the academic progress of individual students. Teachers should be trained in the subject matter they teach and/or major in the subject they teach. Highly qualified teachers at lowperforming schools should be paid more if their students show academic progress.
It is an appropriate goal for students to perform at grade level. Every effort should be made to ensure that all students learn to the greatest extent of their abilities. A high school diploma should mean that a student is fully prepared to enter college, technical school or the workforce.
Schools should encourage patriotism and the Judeo-Christian values of Western civilization. They should teach students about the historical foundation and documents of the United States, including the Declaration of Independence and federal and state constitutions. Schools should teach economics and government so that students will be prepared to vote as informed citizens.
We support regular recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, display of an American and a State flag and use of our national motto — “In God We Trust.”
We oppose sex education in public schools without parental consent. No birth control devices or drugs should be distributed in public schools. We support teaching abstinence until marriage as the expected norm for sexual behavior. Abstinence until marriage is the most effective way to prevent teenage pregnancies, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases, and to create healthy relationships and self-esteem. Public schools should not be used to teach children about homosexual behavior. We urge the NC General Assembly to enact legislation ensuring parental rights are asserted over sex and health education in NC.
Schools should not ask children to answer offensive or intrusive personal nonacademic questionnaires without parental consent.
We support the right of students to pray in school and at public occasions without censorship. We oppose restrictions on free speech and free assembly by public institutions on ideological and religious grounds.
We oppose standards such as “Common Core,” and recognize them as an attempt to turn over the control of our education system to unelected and unaccountable private interests supported by the Federal Government. The US Constitution does not enumerate a power to the Federal Government to establish, dictate, or control educational standards. Local and State Government should be responsible for ensuring North Carolina students are being educated with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy. The people will establish rigorous standards through the actions of their elected state government to ensure our children are empowered to achieve their highest, God-given academic potential. We support English as the official language of the US.