Raleigh, NC – North Carolina already has robust educational choices, and families are enthusiastically enjoying those opportunities. According to a 2022 report from BESTNC.com, approximately 16% of North Carolina families attend private school or home school. Families already have school choice, and this freedom allows for extraordinary educational innovation and entrepreneurship at a net gain to taxpayers.
But politicians in Raleigh desire to transform our freedoms with House Bill 420, giving state bureaucrats more control over North Carolinians educational options. This would drive up prices, reduce quality and innovation, and normalize state welfare checks for the middle class and wealthy.
For the 280,000 students and their families who have opted out of public education, H.B. 420 will allow them to collect state welfare checks twice a year to pay for eligible expenses. Further, language in H.B. 420 will require now independent schools to comply with accreditation agencies to receive those funds, which, in-turn, requires unnecessary mandated government and woke accreditation agency oversight. The consequences are significant: increased cost to manage and maintain the schools, potentially forced woke ideological teaching, and reduced quality of education due to client shift: the government NOT the families. With shekels come shackles.
You may have noticed, after the federal government flooded our economy with money, that the price of every good and service has increased significantly. Consider specifically how rising college tuition costs have priced many families out of secondary education; interestingly, despite generous government handouts, college remains unaffordable and unattainable for many. When the government disrupts a market by throwing money into it the natural outcome is higher prices and lower quality. I predict this will happen with K-12 education in North Carolina should H.B. 420 be passed in its current form.
The good news is that private educational savings accounts (ESA) aren’t new ideas. Indiana has led the way in school choice for more than a decade. According to a new study out of Indiana, “We also did not find statistical evidence that voucher students experience an improvement in their average achievement after baseline the longer they are enrolled in a private school. One might expect that students and their private schools would adjust to better meet the educational needs of voucher students. Collectively, this does not appear to be the case.” In other words, the lackluster results of Indiana’s voucher program, publicly funded ESAs, demonstrates no statistical improvement in educational outcomes.
Solutions abound and immediate options are available, for example: academic and athletic scholarship for underserved students attending private schools; educational scholarships from non-profits, such as the Homeschool Foundation, which provides resources to those in poverty who chose to homeschool; and scholarships distributed by funds contributed through the community by way of churches and civic groups. North Carolina families are innovative and benevolent; therefore, our families do not require government handouts, nor do they require heavy-handed regulation.
North Carolina is considered one of the best states in the country for educational freedom, and our citizens are freely exercising their inalienable rights. As a Christian and conservative, H.B. 420 is wrong for North Carolina because it will drive up prices, reduce quality and innovation, and normalize welfare for the middle class and rich. Too much money is being spent to provide freedom that is already ours; the money should stay with the family.
Though well intentioned and honorable, H.B. 420 is the height of welfare and big government as there is no free money from the government. Perhaps our legislators should champion for our citizens to retain more of the money they earn, instead of redistributing it.
Robert Bortins is CEO of Classical Conversations, a Christ-centered homeschool program in the classical tradition.