Forest Calls for School Choice, Statewide School Voucher Program in 2020 Education Plan

RALEIGH – Lieutenant Governor and 2020 gubernatorial candidate Dan Forest is continuing his advocacy for school choice policy with a proposal to make every child in North Carolina eligible for a state-funded private school voucher that let’s parents and students decide where to best pursue their education. Incumbent Democrat Governor Roy Cooper, with his long history of backing the Far Left N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) and running protection for Big Government public schools, whined that Forest’s plan ‘doesn’t serve students.’

That’s actually exactly what Forest’s proposal does, is serve students and their parents by respecting their rights and the proper arm’s length role of government when it comes to these family decisions. It doesn’t serve the public schools lobby, however, because it threatens their coercive monopoly on education and the associated funding, which is why Cooper and the Democrats honestly resist school choice so much.

From Forest’s Education Plan released this week:

“Over the past decade, North Carolina has made tremendous progress in education. Teacher pay has climbed from among the lowest in the country to become a leader in the Southeast. The number of charter schools has doubled, giving more choices to parents seeking the best education for their children.

Still, there is more progress to be made. The most vital: Changing our mindset to start putting students first.

My education policy hinges on four key ideas:

    • Parents Pick
    • Four in the Door
    • ACT Now
    • Learn and Earn

These programs will expand school choice, hold our schools accountable and open up opportunities for students of all kinds.

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You can read the details of the four themes here, but as Forest says they center around putting students first. Yet the vitriol of cornered threatened Democrats come campaign time snipes at any pretense of giving parents more say in their child’s education. In response Cooper’s mouth piece said the plan “proposes underfunding and robbing our schools to pay for private school vouchers.”

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You’d think Democrats would trumpet choice in education, especially for low income students trapped in failing public schools, and some do, but their leaders do everything they can to snuff it out. Consider Cooper’s response above: they view funding a portable guarantee of choice in your child’s education as theft from their cabal of public schools bureaucrats and activists. Their control in more important than your child’s education, and that conclusion is supported plainly by their rhetoric.

Forest, however, said in a video release “Parents should have a choice in education. They should have a choice where their students actually attend school.”

Currently the Opportunity Scholarship program, approved in 2013, provides up to $4,200 a year to help enable parents to consider and exploit private education options. The program is limited to families with lower-to-middle incomes, but Forest’s plan would expand it to every child. Cooper, true to form, wants to defund the vouchers entirely and end the program.

School choice advocates, however, are championing Forest’s plan. From the News & Observer:

[…] Brian Jodice, a spokesman for Parents For Educational Freedom in North Carolina, said Forest’s plan is a bit of fresh air after the hostility that Cooper has shown toward school choice. Jodice said Forest is being forward thinking.

“If you look at how school choice is embraced in North Carolina, it should come as no surprise that he’d want to hear that, listen to and form his policy around that,” Jodice said in an interview Thursday.

In addition to expanding voucher eligibility, Forest’s platform calls for changing state law to increase funding for charter schools. Charter schools don’t get funding for building and renovating schools and also don’t receive a share of some of the money that local school districts receive.

Forest said the money should follow the child regardless of whether they’re at a traditional public school or a charter school. […]”

In opposing school choice, the Democrats are directly contesting a growing number of parents across the state. Over the better part of the last decade of school choice reforms, North Carolina’s charter, private, and home school populations have exploded to one out of every five K-12 student in the state.

Under the Forest plan that number would likely rise further, thereby relieving the Left’s stranglehold on “public education” by returning the power of choice in education back to the actual “public” (parents) instead of the bureaucrats.

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