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NC judge rules against voucher program

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A North Carolina judge is blocking a new law that would have allowed taxpayer money to go for tuition at private or religious schools.
    
Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled Friday that awarding annual grants of up to $4,200 a year per student violated the state constitution. More than 4,000 families had applied for the grants that were scheduled to be awarded next month.
    
A lawyer representing two parents who want the grants says an appeal is planned.
    
The grants were to start in the next academic year for families whose children qualified for the federal free or reduced-price school lunch program, about $44,000 for a family of four.
    
Taxpayers and groups representing teachers and many of the state's 115 school boards challenged the program in two lawsuits.

REACTION TO THE DECISION

"My disappointment in the court's decision is only outweighed by the impact this will have on the families that had already applied to participate in this program next year.  This will only serve to trap underprivileged children in low-performing schools where they will continue fall behind their peers."  

- Thom Tillis, Speaker, N.C. House

"The voucher program takes money away from public schools. In a time of education budget cuts -- including a failure of incentive pay for professional development, the elimination of tenure as well as the Teaching Fellows program and lack of funding for classroom supplies -- the idea of a voucher program is an attack on the public school system. The NC State Constitution requires the State to provide a quality education to all school–age children, not just the privileged few."

- Randy Voller, chair, N.C. Democratic Party

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