NC Republicans want to take money out of public schools, spend $550M on private school vouchers

NC Republicans want to take money out of public schools, spend $550M on private school vouchers

North Carolina Republicans are known for trying to destroy public schools and make sure our teachers don’t get paid fairly. Now, they want to punish public schools while spending hundreds of millions of dollars on private school vouchers.

Senate Bill 406 and House Bill 823 would put more than $400 million toward private school vouchers by the 2025-26 school year and would reach $550.5 million by 2032, according to WRAL.

The vouchers, known as “Opportunity Scholarships,” have usually been given to lower-income students who are unable to afford the cost of private school. Now, the NCGOP wants to open these vouchers up to everyone, no matter their family’s income and regardless of whether they’re current public school students. Private school students may even be eligible for the scholarships.

Democrats opposed to the legislation say that universal private school eligibility would remove more money from public schools than the amount of the private school voucher. For example, a wealthy family might get a voucher worth $3,300, but the public school their child used to attend would lose more than $7,400 when that student leaves. At that rate, if public schools lost 100,000 students, they would lose more than $740 million in state funding.

About 67% of voucher recipients attended Christian schools, according to a 2020 N.C. State University study. That means, in many cases, the state would take money out of public schools and give it to private religious schools that don’t have the same learning and testing standards, can’t serve everyone, and are allowed to pick and choose who can enroll. 

The $550.5 million that would be spent on private school vouchers by the 2032-33 school year is more than what the state spends on at-risk students, extra funding for low-wealth schools, teacher assistants and more.

This legislation is couched in misleading language – opportunity, choice, freedom, etc. These bills are actually titled “Choose Your School, Choose Your Future” – but don’t buy it, this legislation is just another right-wing attack on our public schools and teachers. Taking money out of our public schools and giving it to private, (mostly) religious schools is absurd. In case you’ve forgotten, the NCGOP has still not fully funded the Leandro Plan. That should be their focus.

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Patrick Zarcone

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