A Wake County judge last week blocked private school tuition grants — what state lawmakers called “Opportunity Scholarships” when the General Assembly approved the program last year.
Judge Robert Hobgood, as critics of the voucher program have contended, ruled that the program violates the N.C. Constitution’s provision that state funding go exclusively to public education. Courts in other states with similar constitutional language have said the same thing about such programs, so the injunction wasn’t not wholly unexpected.
So what’s next for proponents of school choice for parents frustrated by what they perceive as limitations or failures in public education?
State Rep. Paul Stam, a Wake County Republican who helped pass the law, has said he’ll address the judge’s concerns with a legislative fix. That could be a smart approach. They would do well to look at a successful Florida program. Despite the same state constitutional block on funding for private education as in North Carolina, the Florida scholarships have been in place for more than a decade and survived several court challenges.