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  • Mario J. Lomuscio

Vision for Victory


OBJECTION

As the father of 2 young boys, one of my biggest concerns is the quality of education my children will receive in our state. It's no secret that North Carolina’s education system has ranked in the bottom half of the country for several years now. While the state legislature has taken small steps in recent years to rectify the situation, nothing we have done has produced significantly positive results for students, dissatisfied parents, and underpaid teachers.


Recently, I read North Carolina is ranked 37th in the nation for education. We have either chosen to take half-measures where revolutionary change is required, or we have chosen the standard big-government approach to this issue which is to simply throw money at the problem until politicians sufficiently placate the electorate.


Simply throwing more taxpayer money at the problem never yielded positive results in the past and there’s no reason to believe it will in the future. History shows us that once the funds requested are granted, it doesn’t take long before the politicians start begging for more. The buzz word here is “reform”. Beware when politicians start calling for things like "education reform."


You will never hear the private sector talking about “reform”. They talk about innovation, cutting costs and thinking outside the box.

When a company wants to promote a re-imagined product or service, they charge you less, not more. When a politician calls for education reform, he or she is really calling for a bond or some other form of tax increase on, "We the People."


Reform is a word that government bureaucrats and politicians use when they want to dump more taxpayer money into failing policies and programs.


TIME'S UP

It’s time to finally address the education problem in our state with real no-nonsense solutions which place students, parents, and teachers above the bloated bureaucracy, fancy buildings and special interests which have been allowed to seep into the system- and even into classrooms.


It's time to bust up the government monopolistic education system and give children the quality education they so desperately need and so rightly deserve. It’s time to take School Choice to the next level and make a full-fledged voucher program a reality for every student in our great state.



THE VISION

The first step is to make North Carolina an open enrollment state. Currently, our school districts are determined by zip-code. I find this formula to be particularly discriminatory against economically disadvantaged students as it promotes segregation upon socioeconomic lines.


In my opinion, the expansion of tuition-free public charter schools has greatly improved the situations for many, but more must be done. As a general rule, the schools in wealthier zip-codes tend to provide a higher quality education and a safer learning environment as well.


Open enrollment access to all schools would offer parents freedom to choose which school best meets the individual needs of their children, whether it be a public, private or otherwise. This would effectively end what’s left of the government run zip-code discrimination policy. I believe that every child deserves the same opportunity to access a quality education regardless of family income levels and regardless of zip-code.



SCHOOLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUNDS

We currently spend about $9800 per student on k-12 in NC. One issue is that the state does not distribute those funds evenly, the funds are distributed according to statewide formulas across multiple agencies based on need and circumstance. This top-down approach is wildly inefficient and requires a robust bureaucracy to maintain order. I think we need to flip that structure with a bottom-up approach to funding. The following is only an example but it would give an idea of the logic behind the program.


I would like to see per student expenditures broken into 3 categories: vouchers/Education Savings Accounts, district grants, and miscellaneous. There should be a given sum of money (say $1000 per student) that ought to be block-granted directly to the district of whichever school the student attends. The district could then distribute these funds as needed among public schools in the area. This will put some power of the purse in the hands of local school districts and School Boards who are much closer to their own local needs and interests than faraway bureaucrats and politicians. Another portion (say $500) would be set aside for administrative and miscellaneous costs to be used at the State level.


Lastly, $7000 would go to the parents/guardians of each student in the form of a voucher, or would be deposited into an Education Savings Account (ESA) in the child’s name. The parent is then given the freedom to choose which school would best serve the individual needs of their child. The money then follows the student to whichever school the child attends. This would introduce free market competition into our education system by compelling individual schools to compete for student attendance and the funds attached to that student.


A similar plan could save taxpayers upwards of $1300 per student, eliminate wasteful bureaucracy and the constant need for bonds and additional taxes, as well as ultimately improve the overall quality of our entire education system. Even if we continued to spend the same amount per student we do now, the improvements would be dramatic and a welcome disruption of the failing status quo.



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