A Response to the N&O/WRAL Criticism of Opportunity Scholarship

Stronger government control of our children’s education will not improve the learning gap, despite the objections of those who believe that government knows best. In Ned Barnett’s “Admit it. NC School Voucher Program Is a Failure,” more government oversight of religious and private schools is the prescribed anecdote for an alleged lack of accountability. He complains that private Christian schools have no government oversight of their curricular standards and, therefore, are not up to par; but, in fact, it is government controlled public schools that have failed to demonstrate academic success. NC’s DPI now reports that less than two-thirds of lower elementary public-school students can read at a proficient level. The NAEP consistently reports that much less than half of NC students read proficiently. Opportunity Scholarships have given many parents the means to rescue their children from the academic shortcomings of their local public schools.

Claims that biblically based schools “lack academic rigor” and teach standards that are not “accepted by major universities” present an extremely incorrect picture of private-Christian schools in general. The reality is that tuition-paying parents do in fact provide the best accountability—because they have the most at stake. As evidenced by nationally normed standardized test scores, students in our state Christian school association score above national averages, and most attend college after graduation. It is biblically-based beliefs such as the value of a strong work ethic and the intrinsic worth of every individual that contribute to Christian-school students’ success — not government forced standards.