The North Carolina legislature reached agreement on a budget that initiates vouchers in 2014 and ends teacher tenure.

The Republican leadership hailed the budget deal as a huge improvement for public education, which of course it is not. Vouchers are terrible public policy that will harm the public education system by draining dollars from it to fund religious schools. No voucher experiment in the past 20 years has shown that vouchers produce better education.

As for ending teacher tenure, it guarantees an end to academic freedom for teachers. Will any teacher dare to teach a controversial book or discuss evolution?

North Carolina was once hailed as one of the most progressive southern states. Now its governor and both houses of the legislature are members of the same party, and they are extremist in their determination to crush teachers and privatize public education. Teachers’ salaries in the state are among the lowest in the nation.

A critic said this about the budget deal:

“Lawmakers chose to drain available revenues by $524 million over the next two years through an ill-advised series of tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations,” wrote Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, which has been critical of the Republican-led legislature. “This revenue loss isn’t just a number on a piece of paper—it means fewer teachers in more crowded classrooms, higher tuition rates and elevated debt load for families, scarcer economic development opportunities for distressed communities, and longer waiting lists for senior services.”