North Carolina’s Big Education monopoly is used to having all the power and control over parents and taxpayers — and the system and its liberal allies are fighting hard to keep every ounce of it. They’ve even gone so far as to file a lawsuit to prevent low-income North Carolina families from accessing an opportunity scholarship, passed by the General Assembly, that will allow them to choose a private school that better suits their needs. This development — this choice — is an incredible threat to North Carolina’s Big Education monopoly, which places power and control ahead of parental choice. JLF’s John Hood weighs in on the issue in this column.
In virtually no other area of public policy are recipients of a government-funded service forbidden from choosing providers that best meet their needs. No one tells Medicare patients what hospitals they must visit. No one tells food-stamp recipients where they must shop. In education, both federal and state governments provide financial assistance to children who attend child care centers and preschools, as well as to students who attend colleges and universities. Their families are free to choose from among public and private providers of these educational services, with nary a peep out of the usual left-wing suspects.
What makes elementary and secondary education a proper exception to this rule? Nothing. The only distinction is that district-run public schools have until recently enjoyed a monopoly. They simply don’t want to give it up.
It was no surprise that the North Carolina Association of Educators and other groups filed suit to block implementation of the new voucher program for the 2014-15 school year. They worry that once thousands of low-income children are enrolled in schools of choice, it will be practically difficult and politically disastrous to strip them of their choice later on.
Yes, once parents realize they can CHOOSE which school is a good fit for their child, they will begin to wonder why Big Education doesn’t want them to have it.
The fact is, the traditional public school classroom works fine for some North Carolina children. Parents who want their kids in a traditional public school should be able to make that choice. But for those who want and/or need something different, other choices should be available — particularly the choices that are now only available to more prosperous households.