This is a spot of good news coming out of North Carolina. In the first step of what promises to be a long litigation road, Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hopgood found North Carolina's ultra-conservative school voucher program to be unconstitutional.
In a stunning rebuke to state lawmakers’ efforts to bring school vouchers to North Carolina, Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood today found the recently-enacted “Opportunity Scholarship Program” unconstitutional and permanently enjoined disbursement of state funds for that purpose.
“The General Assembly fails the children of North Carolina when they are sent with public taxpayer money to private schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything,” Hobgood said.
In his ruling, issued this morning from the bench, the judge broke down the program and detailed the many reasons why it failed constitutional muster:
This legislation unconstitutionally:
1) appropriates to private schools grades K-12, by use of funds which apparently have gone to the university system budget but which should be used exclusively for establishing and maintaining the uniform system of free public schools;
2) appropriates education funds in a manner that does not accomplish a public purpose;
3) appropriates educational funds outside the supervision and administration of the state board of education;
4) creates a non-uniform system of education;
5) appropriates taxpayer funds to educational institutions that have no standards, curriculum and requirements for teachers and principals to be certified;
6) fails to guard and maintain the rights of the people who privilege the education by siphoning money from the public schools in favor of private schools; and
7) allows funding of non-public schools that discriminate on account of religion.
Most significantly, the judge did not stay his decision pending the state's appeal. With school starting the new year, this could be a real blow to conservatives' effort to drop millions of dollars into unaccountable church schools.
I'll bet Art Pope is crying a river right now. Or trying to buy himself some appellate judges.