I recently attended a presentation through my church by Pastors for NC Children concerning the state of education in NC and how it will affect our children. It included information about the new education bills and the Opportunity Scholarships in the new budget proposed by the majority in the NC legislature.
WHAT ARE OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIPS?
- NC School Vouchers are now called “Opportunity Scholarships.”
WHO PAYS for Opportunity Scholarships vouchers?
- NC Taxpayers.
WHO LOSES FUNDING as money is shifted from public schools to taxpayer funded vouchers?
- Public charter schools like Faith Academy and Greystone Academy, Rowan Early College, and other public schools.
- Initially, if you moved from a public school to a private school and you made less than $152,649 a year, you were eligible for a school voucher, provided at the expense of NC taxpayers. Recipients currently receive up to $4,200 a year. Vouchers were touted as a way for low income parents to move from a public school they believed was not meeting their child’s needs, to a private school that might be a better fit for their child.
- Tables have turned in 2023. With this new legislation, if you already attend a private school and want to continue in a private school, NC taxpayers will GIVE money to parents to help keep their children out of public charter schools, early college, and local public schools. And it’s no longer just for low income parents or students needing to try a change in schools. By making vouchers available to current private school students and eliminating income levels, state appropriations would increase by $73.7 million.
WHAT ABOUT LEFTOVER SCHOOL VOUCHER MONEY?
- Since the conception of school vouchers, available funding has always exceeded those asking for vouchers. Part of the leftover funding is being used to advertise the “Opportunity Scholarships” to the tune of as much as an eventual 1.5 million. This taxpayer money will be used to convince parents that taxpayers will reimburse them for their personal choice to continue to keep their children out of NC public charters, early college, and our local public schools. I see this advertising budget as a made to order way for school voucher advocates to organize politically on the taxpayer dime.
- In addition, the current majority in our NC Legislature doesn’t want taxpayers to worry about additional funding in the next budget for vouchers after taxpayers pay for advertising private school opportunities. These legislators will appropriate this taxpayer funding for private schools separate from the budget and, unless the law is changed by a future legislature, Scholarship Opportunities will be automatically funded through these appropriations each year without anyone having to ask for it to be included in the budget. Meanwhile public charters, early college, and our local public schools will have to continue to plead for yearly funding. Isn’t public schooling for all students still a fundamental right in our United States?
- NOTE: The NC Senate has already cut public school funding in their proposed budget by 2.2 percent. I guess paying for 1.5 million in advertising and also private school tuition is pretty expensive. Don’t be fooled when the current majority talks about their generous increase in public teacher pay rather than this shift to taxpayers paying for private schools. Raises for teachers in year 14 to year 30 will be a mere total of a $200 increase next year and $50.00 in the second year.
SO HOW IS THIS AN OPPORTUNITY for North Carolina?
- It isn’t.
- Contact your Rowan Senator Carl Ford (919) 733-5665 with specific questions as he is a sponsor of this bill that has moved out of the Senate Committee. Rowan’s House Representatives Harry Warren, Julia Howe, and Kevin Crutchfield have already approved this proposal in the House.
- Currently the answer I’ve heard to advocate for these expanded vouchers is something along the lines of “this bill allows parents to take charge of their children’s education.” Really? Let’s talk about the details.
IS IT A FAIR BILL?
- You decide. The bill boosts funding by hundreds of millions of dollars and makes anyone of any income eligible for a monetary gift from taxpayers, regardless of how high your income.