A bill introduced this week in the North Carolina General Assembly would abolish the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, a program that provides tuition assistance to help enable students in lower-income families to attend the school of their parents’ choosing. House Bill 1129, ironically entitled “Ensure a Sound Basic Education,” is sponsored by Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange) along with 39 other House Democrats, and would make good on a pledge made by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper to eliminate the school choice program.
“Considering the unprecedented crisis facing our state, our nation, and the global community, it is unbelievable that a top priority of these legislators—and the Governor for that matter—is to rip existing educational options out of the hands of working class and economically disadvantaged families,” said NC Family President John L. Rustin. “Instead, our state leaders should be doing all they can to empower parents to determine the best educational environment for their children and to help them get there. If anything, the coronavirus pandemic has allowed parents to experience first-hand how unique and different children are and how inadequate a primarily one-size-fits-all public school system is for effective education.”
Currently, over 12,250 K-12 students in North Carolina take advantage of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides eligible children up to $4,200 a year toward tuition in a private, parochial, or other non-public school. The program was established in 2013, and the Republican-led General Assembly has continued to increase funding for the program to enable a growing number of families to benefit from school choice options in the state.
A report conducted by NC State University in 2017 and updated in 2019 found, “Families that receive vouchers [through the OSP program] are among the lowest-income households in the state: The median adjusted household income is $16,213 for new voucher recipients and $15,000 for renewal recipients.”
House Bill 1129 has been referred to the House Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.