Playing Politics: Cooper Budget Proposal Defunds Opportunity Scholarship Program for Low-Income Families

RALEIGH – Even though the State of North Carolina did not enact a new budget in 2019, because Governor Roy Cooper vetoed it and held it hostage to the Left’s wish list (a move the legislature rebuked, in kind), Cooper is out with another budget recommendation chock full of the Left’s priorities.

One of those priorities is to defund, and eliminate, the Opportunity Scholarship program for low-income families. Now, if you haven’t followed this partisan point of contention in recent years, here’s a short summary:

Some years ago, Republicans in the General Assembly passed legislation to offer scholarships to low income parents/students that wanted — desperately needed — another choice for education beyond the local public school. These scholarships can be used for private schools that better address the child’s education needs; private schools these families otherwise could not afford. It gave families a choice that enabled their children to thrive, instead of being trapped in a unsuitable or failing public school.

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It’s a good idea. Parents and students that have taken advantage of it call it a blessing. It’s such a good idea, that every student in this state should have their own voucher to apply toward the school of their choice.

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That’s the problem for the Left. Cooper, most Democrats in the state legislature, and the Public-School-Only radicals HATE IT. Why? Because it gives parents and students control, instead of the school district bureaucracy and extremist teachers associations that want to preach social justice to your kids.

In keeping with that, Cooper is again showing how little he cares about real education by proposing to defund the scholarships in his recent budget recommendation. He’s appeasing the Radical Leftists at the NCAE, at the expense of poor families struggling to get children a good education.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, Cooper’s 2020 opponent, is calling him out on this shameful attack on education; an attack that is especially egregious considering he won’t allow public schools to even open for full in-person instruction.

Gov. Cooper has sided with the far-left once again by proposing to gut our state’s K-12 Opportunity Scholarships for low-income families. His message to parents across our state remains clear: He’s more concerned about playing politics with our children’s education than he is with offering opportunity and full-time instruction to those who need it most. If private schools are good for Gov. Cooper and his family, why does he want to deny the same option to thousands of hard-working North Carolina families?
When it comes to choice in education, Cooper says, ‘For me, but not for thee.’
These scholarships provide up to $4,200 in funding per student per year to go toward a private education option. The average family taking advantage of this program has a median household income of $31,000.
The NCAE sued to stop this program, for no other reason than they view it as competition. In their view, only public schools should control of your child’s education. They also suffer from the delusion that such a program takes resources away from public schools.
It doesn’t.
Just for context, the lieutenant governor’s office shares that the “average amount of state level funding that is allocated towards each traditional K12 student is approximately $6,480.”
Doing the math, “the state saves about $2,140 on each student per year by allowing low-income parents the ability to utilize an opportunity scholarship. Opportunity Scholarships have saved the state tens of millions of dollars since 2013.”
In fact, our state is number one in the Southeast for growth in this per pupil funding, but more money doesn’t mean better education.
That reality is borne out across the state right now as parents and students struggle with forced virtual learning and asinine school closures. And who led the closures? Teachers associations like the NCAE that fear mongered more than Cooper himself to foment maximum Pandemic Panic.
So, the next time you hear a Democrat whine that Republicans won’t fund education, or don’t pay teachers enough, or that they simply don’t care about the kids, please point out their mistaken impression. Governor Cooper and the Left play politics with education for partisan gain and Leftist control, and their doing it in real time.

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