Yesterday, Patterson Harkavy attorney Burton Craige appeared before the Supreme Court of North Carolina, arguing that the state’s recently-enacted private school voucher scheme violates the North Carolina Constitution.
The voucher scheme uses taxpayer funds to pay the tuition of private school students. The vast majority of schools funded by the program are religious institutions, many of which overtly discriminate against those of different faiths. Entities funded by the program are subject to no educational requirements. They can be unaccredited, employ teachers who lack even a high school diploma, fail to perform criminal background checks on any member of their educational staff, teach no science or history, teach only the recitation of religious texts, and discriminate against students with disabilities. Many of the entities funded by the program have fewer than five students.
Burton argued that the program violates the North Carolina’s Constitution’s requirement that public funds for education be used “exclusively” for public schools. He explained that when the State last attempted to implement a private school voucher scheme — a 1950’s attempt to fund racially discriminatory private schools to avoid compliance with Brown v. Board of Education — it did so only after amending the Constitution. Burton also argued that the program violates the requirement that taxpayer funds only be used for “public purposes.”
The Supreme Court arguments received extensive media coverage, including in the the Raleigh News & Observer, the Greensboro News & Record, and the Charlotte Observer. A video of the argument can be viewed at WRAL.com.