This article by Helen Ladd of Duke University is absolutely “must” reading.

Ladd is a major economist of education.

The same article might be written for many states.

North Carolina was once renowned for its commitment to public education.

But now the legislature is starving the funding for public education: “Per-pupil spending on K-12 education in North Carolina is now 46th in the country, teacher salaries are 48th and the General Assembly has been cutting funding for our university and community college systems, once the envy of other states.”

Worse, the legislature seems determined to create a dual school system, one public, the other run by privately managed charters, vouchers, and for-profit vendors.

Here is the utterly predictable result:

“Proponents of this private vision push for reduced spending on traditional public schools, unfettered expansion of charter schools, transfer of school management to private firms that view education as a business opportunity, school vouchers that shift public funds to private schools and scholarships for private school tuitions financed by tax breaks to corporations and wealthy individuals.

“This private vision espoused by Republican leaders diverts attention from the public purposes of schooling and reduces accountability for the use of public funds. Perhaps most important, this anti-public education vision leaves little room for principles of social justice and the commitment to equal educational opportunity for all students.

“When education becomes primarily a private affair, benefits flow disproportionately to those with the most means to work the system to their advantage. The losers are typically disadvantaged children who end up in under-resourced traditional public schools with large concentrations of low-performing and challenging-to-educate students. The role of education as an engine of opportunity for every North Carolina child is downplayed in favor of greater benefits for those already advantaged.”

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