Up & Coming Weekly

July 18, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JULY 19 - 25, 2023 UCW 5 School's Out ! School's Out ! FUN ALL SUMMER! O n l i n e e d i t i o n a v a i l a b l e a t K i d s v i l l e n e w s . c o m /c u m b e r l a n d GET YOUR NEW ISSUE OF KIDSVILLE NEWS AT THESE GREAT LOCATIONS RAMSEY: -NC DSS LocalCounty Direct - Micasita DOWNTOWN/HAYMOUNT AREA: -Cumberland County Courthouse -Cumberland County Main Library -Haymount Post Office -Eastover IGA BRAGG BLVD: -Dollar Tree -Baldino's CAMERON: -Family Medicine & Acute Care -Sandhills Pediatric Dentistry CEDAR CREEK: -Kinlaw's Restaurant -Stedman Post Office HOPE MILLS: -Carlie C's IGA -Village Family Dental -Hope Mills Library -US Post Office -Zorbas -UPS Store REILLY RD/FT. LIBERT Y: -Ft. Liberty Welcome Center -Womack (Reilly Rd Entrance) -N. Post Commissary OWEN DRIVE: -Cape Fear Eye Associates -Bordeaux Library -Bragg Mutual Credit Union SPRING LAKE: Spring Lake Library SKIBO/CLIFFDALE/RAEFORD RD/MORGANTON RD: -Kids First Pediatrics -Pate's Farm Market -Dairy Queen (Westwood) -UPS Store (Westwood) -Hunan Gardens -Zorba's Subs -Lafayette Post Office -Cliffdale Library MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. (910) 484-6200. All parents worry about their chil- dren, and back in 1492 when I was the mother of school age children, my husband and I worried about their schools, teachers, and all that accom- panies the years-long process of for- mal learning. We called it "adventures in education," and it was different with each child and with each school year. If I were a parent of school age children in 2023, I would be both con- fused and terrified. Under the ban- ners of "school choice" and "parental rights," North Carolina legislators are systematically dismantling public education as we have known it. e assault began relatively modest- ly in 2011 when the General Assembly lifted the 100-school cap on what had been an experiment in less-regulated public schools dubbed charter schools. Today we have more than 200 of them, whose educational quality varies wildly, though many parents may not understand that reality. e dismantling effort has contin- ued with a program to channel North Carolina taxpayer dollars to non-pub- lic schools, specifically private, often religiously affiliated operations with almost no accountability for the use of our tax dollars. is transfer of public funds into private hands is called a "voucher" program. Charter schools are a national phenomenon in response to perceived failures of public schools and a sense that "one size fits all" does not work for many students. Charter schools are likely here to stay, but the ageless caveat of "buyer beware" applies, be- cause the quality of individual charter schools varies significantly. North Carolina has some excellent ones, notably in and around urban areas. Charters do administer state-re- quired tests, but they are not required to follow state curricula. Only 50% of their teachers are required to be licensed, and there are no required teacher workdays or professional de- velopment programs. Transportation is not required, and if a charter school offers it, it does not have to meet the safety standards of traditional public schools transportation. A deeply concerning reality to me is that many charter schools are increas- ingly operated by private, for-profit companies, a transfer of public funds into private companies that make little investment and face little risk or responsibility. North Carolina's newer school voucher program, appealingly called "Opportunity Scholarships," is even more problematic. Hard data is dif- ficult to come by since there is little regulation of the program, but a report by the North Carolina Justice Center found allegations of religious and other discrimination and the teaching of factually inaccurate information. ere have also been instances of private schools receiving more state financed vouchers than they had stu- dents and schools receiving tax paid vouchers after they have closed their doors. In addition, these voucher tax dollars may soon be available not only to lower-income families but to even the wealthiest among us. Parental desire for choices for their children is understandable and laud- able. My family wished for that as well. With choice, though, comes responsibility to research the options as well as possible before diving into them. e General Assembly has enor- mous responsibility as well. It should require more accountability from both charter schools and private schools that take vouchers so that parents can make informed choices for the children and so that taxpayers can see how much and where our hard- earned tax dollars are going. Failure to do so is the worst form of dereliction of legislative responsibil- ity to the North Carolinians who sent them to Raleigh. Producing ill-educated does no one any good — not individual students and not the state as a whole. Igno- rance is the answer to nothing. Misadventures in public education by MARGARET DICKSON OPINION

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