by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
The NCAE is threatening a legal challenge to the General Assembly’s proposed budget, and their major complaints center on two provisions – $20 million for opportunity scholarships to allow more kids to attend private schools and the elimination of tenure for teachers.
But I don’t understand the argument. According to WRAL
“You are placing a sign on each school’s door that says, ‘Quality educators need not apply,'” association President Rodney Ellis wrote in a two-page letter sent to lawmakers criticizing the budget.
Really? Because I thought the budget was replacing tenure, which just rewards long service, with merit pay, which rewards quality educators who do an excellent job. In fact, the budget sets aside $10.2 million to reward excellent teachers. Surely that actually says, “Quality educators, come work here, and we’ll reward you accordingly.”
And as for the opportunity scholarships,
The NCAE called the vouchers unconstitutional, and Ellis said the group also plans to challenge changes to school funding that it says put the state’s constitutional obligation to provide sound education for all students in jeopardy.
Again, I’m confused. Nobody’s making these kids leave public schools; they’re just providing an additional option. If public schools are strong, parents will keep their kids there. That’s what we’ve seen in Alberta, Canada where, despite a universal voucher program that’s been in place for 20 years, 70 percent of parents still opt to send their kids to public schools.
So the budget isn’t jeopardizing sound education for all students, and it’s not driving away quality teachers. It’s doing quite the opposite, and those are reforms that students, parents, and anyone who cares about quality education should welcome.