N.C. Senate oks $500 million for vouchers in a victory for parents, school choices | Eastern North Carolina Now

By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
May 3, 2024

The North Carolina Senate this week vigorously debated political worldviews before successfully approving a significant funding allocation — hundreds of millions of dollars — to eliminate the waitlist for the state’s Opportunity Scholarships voucher program.

The North Carolina Senate approved House Bill 823, which includes $248 million for the 2024-2025 fiscal year and $215,460,000 for the 2024-2025 fiscal year to fund the 54,000 applicants on the voucher waitlist.

It also boosts funding from fiscal years 2025-2026 through 2031-2032 so that appropriations gradually increase from $625 million to $800 million. The bill passed, 28-15.

The goal by supporters is to fund vouchers for more families who wish to send their children to private schools, which often includes Christian schools.

“I’m glad to see so many families taking advantage of it,” said Sen. Michael Lee (R), a bill supporter.

“We’ve got over 55,000 families that are really kind of on pins and needles wanting to know: Is their child going to be able to go to the school of their choice, come the fall? … We’re really just clearing the waitlist.”

Debate on the bill during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing earlier in the week focused on family income.

“I have a lot of problems with this bill,” said Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Democrat. “And one of them is your urgency to help the very wealthiest families help pay the tuition for their children to go to private schools with taxpayer money when we know that the majority of those wealthiest families are already sending their children to those private schools with their own money. … This is just a handout to them.”

Marcus called it “welfare for the wealthiest” — a phrase that drew pushback from Republican Sen. Ralph Hise.

“I’m a little perplexed by the fact that … certain people are now calling paying for a child’s education, welfare,” Hise said, noting the bill is “paying for the education of a child.”

“You go to my home county, we’re not talking about elite private schools,” Hise said. “They don’t exist. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about a school a church runs, where families are making the decision to find a place that fits the education of their child better. And that’s the only option. It doesn’t matter what income level you’re at.”

Sen. Amy Galey, a Republican, agreed with Hise.

“This is not, quote-unquote, welfare, if it’s actually their own money,” she said of high-income earners. “They’re the ones who pay the taxes. … This is a fraction of what the family is actually subsidizing [in] the public school system, which … we all benefit [from and] is a common good.”

The bill now heads back to the House. Although it faces a likely veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, Republicans may have the votes for an override.

Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, urged legislators to support the legislation.

“Opportunity Scholarships, or vouchers, should be accessible to families across all income brackets within our state,” Creech said. “For some parents, prioritizing a faith-based education is paramount. Religious private schools focus on nurturing faith and spirituality, imparting religious doctrines, fostering participation in rituals, and nurturing a connection to one’s Creator. Public schools typically lack the capacity to fulfill this fundamental need of a growing and developing young life.

“Others harbor concerns regarding the moral climate and safety within public schools,” he added. “Opportunity Scholarships empower parents to select an educational environment that aligns with their values, emphasizing virtues such as honesty, integrity, responsibility, respect, empathy and the preservation of sexual purity. The failure of public schools to adequately address these concerns, exemplified by policies accommodating boys identifying as girls sharing facilities with girls, represents both a moral lapse and a genuine safety hazard. Despite repeated concerns about discipline issues, including disruptive behavior and disrespect towards educators, public schools persist in inadequately addressing these challenges, leaving parents feeling trapped in unacceptable situations.”

Many parents, Creech added, have concerns about academic rigor in public schools.

“For years, there has been a troubling sentiment that public education has regrettably lowered its standards, depriving many children of the opportunity to excel academically,” he said. “Without the option of opportunity scholarships, parents find themselves restricted and unable to provide the best possible education for their children.”

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( May 8th, 2024 @ 4:28 pm )
Poor management in the public schools is the result of the tail (superintendant) wagging the dog (school board). Too many school board members act like the superintendant is their boss, when in reality, he is their employee. The school board members are the elected policy makers sent their by the voters to run the school system. The superintendant is their chief bureaucrat. Many of our Beaufort County School Board members are little more than yes-men or yes-women to superintendant Cheeseman, and that badly needs to change if we are to get out of the rut we are in.

Proper management would include setting expectations for school improvement and basing any raises on meeting those standards. For the central office and superintendant that should include scores districtwide increasing to the expected level. If not, no raise for them. For each school, there should be a similar arrangement for principles and assistants for improving the scores of that school. Teachers are paid less, so they should probably get a cost of living raise, but should get a bonus or a further raise if their class exceeds the expected levels. Reward success and punish failure. That is the only way our schools will improve.
( May 8th, 2024 @ 1:14 pm )
I would bet that if we cut everyone in the school system's salary by 65%, the reading scores would go up and fast!

I know that everyone reading here knows that if we accept mediocrity, we reap mediocrity. WHY doesnt those running our school system know this?
( May 8th, 2024 @ 11:22 am )
We are doing really good here in Beaufort County, compared to big cities like Chicago, which has a reading proficiency of 27% of students. Beaufort County is all the way up to 35%. Whoopee! That means 65% are not. Why is that?

Muslim march in Hamburg demands German gov't be replaced by caliphate Rev. Mark Creech, Editorials, Beaufort Observer, Op-Ed & Politics College campus protests were planned months ago, funded by out-of-country donations


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