Emergency Motion Filed Over Opportunity Scholarships Ruling

The attorneys for the parents in the case of the NC Opportunity Scholarships filed an emergency motion late Friday afternoon.  I’ve obtained a copy of the motion:  Emergency Motion and Appdx. The case being made is that this ruling has put the education of  hundreds of children in limbo:

“In the following weeks, the SEAA conducted a lottery and awarded 4,209 scholarships to North Carolina low-income families. Many of those families have now enrolled their children in one of the approximately 306 private schools that have signed up to participate in the Program. The SEAA was in the process of
disbursing funds for 363 children, with another 212 children waiting in the wings for the next batch of fund disbursements. The SEAA stopped the fund disbursement for 363 children yesterday, on August 21, 2014, when the Superior Court announced its decision in open court. SEAA’s ability to send the scholarship proceeds to the private schools participating in the Program.

Absent an immediate stay by this Court, the parents, their children, and the private schools that have contracted to educate those children are left in limbo, uncertain as to whether the schools will be paid for providing services to the parents’ children. The families participating in this Program are low-income families whose children are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches under the federal school lunch program. It is likely that they cannot afford to pay for private school educations without the scholarship funds. They may be forced to remove their children from the private schools that they have already started to attend and return to their assigned public schools. The private schools will likely be forced to terminate their contracts with the parents.”

In the appendix, are the transcripts from the proceedings and this nugget from Hobgood:

“The collateral effect, whether intended or not, is to renew the protection of the Leandro decision to a sound basic education from the hundreds of students who have been determined at risk solely by their own parents.”

Based on that statement, it would appear that Judge Hobgood’s ruling rests on the idea that parents are not qualified or able to decide if the school system is providing a quality education or to determine what is best for their own children in terms of education. While the state clearly has input into education of the public, children belong to their parents, not the state. What is ultimately in their best interest is and should determined by the parent.

Hobgood cites Article 9, section 6 of the the NC State Constitution:

“The Opportunity Scholarship program is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt in violation of Article 9, Section 6 of North Carolina State Constitution in that taxpayer funds may not be used to support private schools grades K-12 and to do so violates the North Carolina Constitution, Article 9, Section 2(1).
It appears to this Court that the General Assembly is seeking to push at-risk students from low-income families into nonpublic schools in order to avoid the cost of providing them a sound, basic education in public schools as mandated by the Leandro decision.”

Umm…These scholarships would not have been introduced nor so widely sought if the public schools were providing a “sound, basic education”? The overall premise these scholarships don’t reflect the public interest is a bit absurd.

John Hood’s observations were in a similar vein of reasoning:

“In virtually no other area of public policy are recipients of a government-funded service forbidden from choosing providers that best meet their needs. No one tells Medicare patients what hospitals they must visit. No one tells food-stamp recipients where they must shop. In education, both federal and state governments provide financial assistance to children who attend child care centers and preschools, as well as to students who attend colleges and universities. Their families are free to choose from among public and private providers of these educational services, with nary a peep out of the usual left-wing suspects.

What makes elementary and secondary education a proper exception to this rule? Nothing. The only distinction is that district-run public schools have until recently enjoyed a monopoly. They simply don’t want to give it up.”
Carolina Journal

Also, where is the Judge drawing his definition of “sound, basic education” from?

I find this position interesting at a time when Common Core has just been repealed from our state statutes and is about to undergo replacement, the implementation of the Common Core standards have been a disaster with examples daily cropping up daily on Twitter or Facebook and homeschooling in North Carolina is exploding.   All of these events I’ve just listed have been and are parent driven, but under Hobgood’s insinuation about parents making the decisions,  none of them know what they are doing. Come on.

It seems to me this ruling is less about helping kids get a “sound, basic education” and more about protecting the wallet of Public schools.

 

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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