Admitting we made a mistake is not easy. For anyone. And especially for legislators. Which is why I suppose we pass laws and seldom come back later and see if they are really doing what they were intended to do.
I mean, can you imagine Senator Del Marsh announcing that the Alabama Accountability Act, even after diverting $86 million from the Education Trust Fund, has really not helped students in failing schools; or Rep. Terri Collins saying that her A-F school report cards are basically of no value in improving schools?
But let me introduce you to Charles Jeter, a former twice-elected Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly who voted for that state’s Opportunity Scholarship Act in 2013.
The same guy who had an opinion piece in the Charlotte Observer on March 1 titled, “I voted for school vouchers. Now I know I was wrong.”
He goes on to say:
“In 2013 the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Opportunity Scholarship Act that created the voucher program for our state. (In full disclosure, I was a member of the General Assembly at that time and did vote in favor of the legislation.) Opportunity Scholarships were pitched as a way to ensure better educational outcomes for those children who may not be thriving in public schools. At the time the legislation was passed, there were little data on the effectiveness of these programs and many legislators were encouraged by the anecdotal evidence that was available.
So beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, North Carolina allocated $10 million for these vouchers. That amount has increased every school year since, and for the 2017-2018 school year, North Carolina will spend some $44.84 million for vouchers. What’s more concerning is that the amount allocated to vouchers increases each year by $10 million. That means for the 2027-2028 school year, North Carolina is scheduled to spend $144.84 million on vouchers. That’s a lot of money that North Carolina will spend supporting a voucher system that every major study has shown fails at these programs’ core purpose: providing better educational outcomes for our children. All of these studies show that vouchers have, in fact, created worse educational outcomes.
North Carolina is scheduled to spend over $1 billion in the next 10 years for a voucher system that simply doesn’t work. It’s time for the General Assembly to recognize this and correct course so that we can reinvest that billion dollars in public schools.”
I do not know Charles Jeter. But I will be going through Charlotte in April and may just stop and shake his hand.