An ad by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beverly Perdue attacks Republican rival Pat McCrory over school vouchers.
What the ad says: Perdue is shown reading to children, with the words "Endorsed by North Carolina teachers" below. Perdue: "I'm Bev Perdue. I'm running for governor and I sponsored this ad." The ad then shows images of McCrory, a headline from the Charlotte Observer and schools. Narrator: "There's a real difference between the candidates on the issue of school vouchers. Pat McCrory supports private school vouchers, taking 900 million taxpayer dollars away from public schools to pay for kids in private schools. McCrory would have to slash public education or raises taxes." A clip from a McCrory ad is shown: "I'm Pat McCrory. The difference is leadership." Narrator: "You call that leadership? Pat McCrory, wrong on vouchers, wrong for the middle class."
The background: Vouchers are a traditional Democratic-Republican divide in North Carolina.
About 20 vouchers programs are in use across 14 states around the country, according to Jeff Reed, director of the education task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonpartisan association for conservative lawmakers.
Vouchers or programs where parents can take tax credits for private education are typically limited to disabled or disadvantaged students in failing schools, Reed said. No state has a universal voucher program.
This year a bipartisan group of N.C. lawmakers pushed for a tax credit for special-needs students that would be worth as much as $6,000 per child each year. The bill died in committee.
McCrory has consistently supported vouchers, but recently he has also said he would limit them. During the Republican primary this year, he pitched vouchers as a way to increase competition among schools and offer parents more choices.
"The more competition we have, the more choice you have in education, the better our education is going to be for our kids," he told a Hendersonville crowd in March. "And parents must have these choices, both with charter schools, school vouchers, and also more choice at the local school."
In a candidate questionnaire distributed by the N.C. Family Policy Council, McCrory answered "yes" to, "Should parents who choose to educate their children in private, religious, or home schools receive a voucher or tax credit from the state?
The $900 million figure is based on calculations that assume that every student home schooled or enrolled in private school in North Carolina would get a voucher. That would be a much more extensive program than is available in any other state.
Perdue has been endorsed by the N.C. Association of Educators in the primary and the general election this year.
Is it accurate? Yes and no. McCrory has voiced support for vouchers, but the $900 million figure is misleading.
— Lynn Bonner