Debating school choice in North Carolina: the rise of private school vouchers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robert Kennedy (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Craig Peck

Abstract: Private school voucher programs are part of what proponents call the “school choice” movement, which aims to increase educational opportunities for students. The concept of school choice is not without controversy, especially with regards to private school vouchers. While voucher programs have existed in the United States since the 1700s, they did not come into prominence until the passage of the Milwaukee Parent Choice Program in 1990. North Carolina passed two voucher laws in 2013 and numerous states across the country now have some type of voucher program embedded without their public education system. The goal of this dissertation was to study the historical development and contemporary status of the voucher trend while also closely examining North Carolina’s voucher law and analyzing the factors that led to its passage in 2013. This study provides a historical overview of vouchers in the United States, as well as a detailed review of the literature surrounding private school vouchers. The history of vouchers in the United States can largely be divided into three time frames: the earliest voucher programs from 1776 to 1925, the passage of voucher laws aimed at evading desegregation mandates from 1950 to 1989, and the rise of modern voucher programs from 1990 to present day. My review of the literature revealed eight overarching voucher concepts. These eight themes include (a) academic achievement, (b) free-market competition, (c) individual parental school choice, (d) racial segregation, (e) funding and state budget issues, (f) targeting at-risk and disadvantaged student populations, (g) oversight and accountability, and (h) church-state separation and other legal concerns. I applied these concepts to the information I gathered while examining over 130 documents published by two of North Carolina’s most significant think-tanks, NC Policy Watch (NCPW) and the John Locke Foundation (JLF). I utilized specific coding techniques to identify the major themes found within these documents, which allowed me to analyze more closely how North Carolina’s voucher law came into existence. I concluded my dissertation by assessing the impact of vouchers more broadly and offering specific recommendations for policymakers regarding some of the political and social issues that need further consideration.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Choice, Education, Vouchers
Educational vouchers $z North Carolina
Private schools $z North Carolina
School choice $z North Carolina

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