Bill aims to funnel taxpayer money from public to private school - WNCT

Bill aims to funnel taxpayer money from public to private schools

Bill aims to funnel taxpayer money from public to private schools

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Millions in taxpayer dollars could soon be funneled to private schools if some state lawmakers get their way.

It's called the "Opportunity Scholarship Act." If passed, it would offer scholarships of up to $4,200 each year to low-income students in our state so they could go to private school.

That means a total of $90 million in taxpayer dollars over the next two years would be spent to send 13,000 students each year to a private institution.

"I think every kid should have an opportunity to go to a school they choose and feel is right for them," says Erin Greenleaf, a mom who has two kids in private school. "So yeah, I think it's a good thing. There's a certain amount of respect I think they're taught more here than in the public schools."

The bill's sponsors, including Pitt County Rep. Brian Brown, argue it would expand educational opportunities for low-income students and reduce the socioeconomic achievement gap.

Opponents say it would drain more resources from cash-strapped public schools.

"It's like taking a bunch of money from a lot of kids and giving it to a select few," says Jessica Weatherly, a public school parent. "And we're already in desperate need for teachers, so you're going to take away more teachers?"

Vivian Martin Covington is the executive director of Teacher Education at East Carolina University. She says there are pros and cons to the bill, but overall thinks it would be bad for our state.

"When you're talking about taking $90 million off of a budget that's already dwindling, I don't think it's a good thing for North Carolina," she says. "I also don't think $90 million is going to reach enough people to make a big enough impact. I think it is going to be serving more of a particular group of people as opposed to serving all families and children."

The bill is now in the House Committee on Education. If lawmakers eventually pass it, families who earn up to $53,000 a year would be eligible for tuition this upcoming school year. That would then rise to a $71,000 income cap the next year.

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