by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Private schools that accept voucher students need to push back against uninformed voucherphobes. Here is a letter to the editor from Lauri Ake, principal of Fayetteville Christian School, that does just that:
Fayetteville Christian School decided to become a participating school in the N.C. Opportunity Scholarship program three years ago because we believe spiritual development as well as academic growth is what students need. We partner with families who agree that some of the most influential people in their children’s lives should share the same beliefs.
I specifically want to address the critics’ “concerns” over private schools’ lack of accountability. Keith Poston of the Public School Forum (“Opportunity on the rise,” July 23) was correct when quoted that private schools aren’t held to the same academic standard. That’s true at Fayetteville Christian School. We are dually accredited through ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) and AdvanceED, which is the accrediting agency all public schools in North Carolina receive accreditation through. We hold ourselves to additional standards that the public schools do not. We do use licensed teachers and offer lateral entry positions for qualified personnel who are willing to get the educational training, just like the public schools.
Finally, the biggest concern voiced is that precious funding is being diverted to private schools. A scholarship recipient receives $4,200 for the year from the state. That’s a $4,096 savings based on the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Facts and Figures 2015-2016 per pupil expenditure. The scholarship receives no federal or local funding, so Cumberland County is actually saving money.
Obviously families in Cumberland County want alternatives to public school.
Unfortunately, the folks at the Fayetteville Observer titled the letter, “Some private schools accountable.” The truth is that all private schools are accountable to parents, regardless if they participate in a voucher program or not.