Letter to the Editor: Are NC Students Learning "What They Need to Know" at Voucher Schools?

[This letter was written by LWV-Lower Cape Fear Vice President Bonnie Bechard and published in The News & Observer.]

News & Observer - June 13, 2018

Regarding “2 studies differ on success of school vouchers in NC” (June 5): The League of Women Voters welcomes the NC State University study on outcomes for students receiving vouchers through the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Their focus was very different from the League of Women Voters study, which focused on the curriculum and how that compared to the NC Course of Study (NCCOS) used in public schools.

A child may be a skilled reader, but if the content of the textbook has factual errors, serious omissions in content or lack of critical thinking, what is the value of that education, especially if it limits choice of college, or career? Are North Carolina students learning what they need to know to become leaders in business, science, literature and government?

One problem that could have affected the outcome is the sample itself, which doesn’t reflect the two very different types of schools: Those that use the NCCOS or a comparable curriculum, and the approximately 75 percent who use the Biblical World View curriculum. The NC State study was weighted heavily toward schools using the NCCOS and have state certified teachers, such as Catholic Schools. A random sampling would have perhaps reflected a different outcome.

The bottom line is that taxpayer money is going to a program with no requirements for curriculum standards, teacher certification or school accreditation.

Bonnie Bechard

Vice President

LWV of the Lower Cape Fear