Letter to the Editor: Revisiting National School Choice Week

Published 12:03 pm Monday, January 31, 2022

As mentioned in a recent letter by Rep. Greg Murphy, January 23-30 was National School Choice Week (NSCW) across the nation. While Rep Murphy did a commendable job of discussion the current state of education in the schools of North Carolina, he failed to answer some basic questions about NSCW. Such as: Who started the movement? From whom does it draw its support? What other organizations support it?

NSCW was created in 2011 by the right-wing Gleason Family Foundation, which also funds the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Uncommon Charter Schools, and the libertarian Cato Institute.

In 2020, the John Locke Foundation of North Carolina kicked off NSCW with a talk by Robert Luddy. Luddy is the millionaire founder of the Thales Academy chain of private schools in North Carolina and CEO of commercial kitchen ventilation systems company, CaptiveAire. Luddy and his wife Maria have given thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and causes in North Carolina and across the country, including the promotion of “school choice”.

NSCW was also a favorite of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Devos has appeared at NACW events since its inception. DeVos has also been an ardent advocate to alternatives to traditional schools and has often referred to traditional public schools as “dead ends”.

While many charter and private schools serve their students well there are many that do not. Some are profit-based and ever on the hunt for ways to increase the bottom line for their investors. Favorite ways to reduce costs have included the dismissal of children with disabilities and low test scores, low teacher pay, and the neglect of building maintenance.

Polk Culpepper