by Stephanie Mencimer
In July, the increasingly wingnut legislature in North Carolina passed a bill to divert $10 million from the public school budget to create vouchers that would give low-income students up to $4,200 a year to pay for private school tuition. Such vouchers are a popular conservative proposal for "reforming" failing public schools.
North Carolina's vouchers, which will become available in 2014, allow public money to go to unregulated private schools that are not required to meet any educational or teacher preparation standards. In addition, thanks to the way the law was written, the money will be available to "home schools"-literally schools set up in someone's house. Homeschooling traditionally has been done by parents. But the state recently changed its home schooling law to allow people who aren't parents or legal guardians educate kids in a group setting. The only requirement for such schools is that the teacher have a high school diploma, that the school keep immunization and attendance records on its students, and that it give kids a national standardized test every year.
NC Policy Watch, a project of the nonprofit North Carolina Justice Center, went out and found some interesting "home schools" that may be eligible for taxpayer funding next year. The Paramount christian Academy has one teacher who teaches her granddaughter, a neighbor's kid, and one special-needs student. It uses textbooks from Bob Jones University and A Beka Book, whose offerings we've chronicled here at Mother Jones.