By Harriet McLeod
(Reuters) – A North Carolina judge on Thursday blocked the state’s new school voucher program, saying it unconstitutionally diverted money from public education to private schools, many of them religious.
The Opportunity Scholarship program, designed to give poor and middle-class families public funds to help pay private school tuition, was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature last year and had already begun operating.
School vouchers have drawn criticism from those who say they drain money from public schools and subsidize overtly religious education. Supporters say they offer parents more choices on where to educate their children.
In his order blocking the program, Judge Robert Hobgood said it diverted money that under the state constitution can only be used for public schools.
Some of that money was going to private schools that discriminate based on religious affiliation, he added. Backers of North Carolina’s $10 million voucher program said they planned to appeal the ruling and would seek to reverse the judge’s order suspending the program as the case works its way through the courts.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure that today’s decision is merely another speed bump on the way to victory at the North Carolina Supreme Court,” Richard Komer, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a Virginia-based pro-voucher legal center representing two parents in the case, said in a statement.
North Carolina’s attorney general also plans to appeal the ruling, a spokeswoman said.
About 20 states offer some form of school vouchers, with most of those programs having survived legal challenges, Komer said.
The legal challenge to the program was filed by a group of public school teachers and administrators.
(Reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charleston, South Carolina; Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky, Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney)
[Image: “Bored girl sitting at desk in the classroom,” via Shutterstock]
Pro-Trump internet trolls tried to hijack Nickelodeon’s kid’s survey on who should be president — and failed
On Tuesday, Nickelodeon hosted its "Kids Pick The President" straw poll, in which young viewers of the network give their own opinion on who should win the presidential election. The poll has no electoral significance, given that kids cannot vote and given that the survey methodology is not scientific and lets anyone opt in regardless of how it balances the sample.
Despite this, pro-Trump internet trolls reportedly sought to hijack the results, spreading the message to get people to flood the poll with votes for President Donald Trump.
In the end, however, they couldn't even do it. Joe Biden won the poll, 53 percent to 47 percent.
Wisconsin sees ‘nightmare scenario’ of COVID cases — as Trump ignores medical advice for campaign rally
Wisconsin residents saw a “nightmare scenario” situation unfold Tuesday as 5,262 COVID-19 cases rocked the state, resulting in 64 deaths as President Donald Trump held a large campaign rally with few masks and zero social distancing.
"This is no longer a slow-motion disaster," said Gregory Poland, director of the vaccine research group at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "This is a disaster in warp speed. And it's maddening to me as a physician because a whole lot of people have died and are dying."
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the state Department of Health Services reported 5,262 new cases and 64 deaths Tuesday, both records far above any previous daily counts. The death toll now stands at 1,852.
Trump’s website hacked and defaced to stop the ‘fake-news’ spread by the president: report
President Donald Trump's website appeared to have been briefly hacked on Tuesday -- one week before the 2020 presidential campaign.
Visitors to the site briefly saw a fake DOJ takedown notice.
"This site was seized," the message read. "The world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded (sic) by President Donald J. Trump."
"It is time to allow the world to know the truth," the message continued.
The message also claimed "secret conversations" prove the Trump administration "is involved in the origin of the coronavirus."
There is no evidence that is the case, experts believe the virus originated in China.