@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Bill would provide state money for private school tuition

Posted April 15, 2013
Updated April 16, 2013

— Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, on Monday filed a bill that would help families pay for private school tuition.

Stam calls the proposal the "Opportunity Scholarship program," but opponents say it's a voucher scheme that won't help students who need it most.

"Parents can do a better job of picking the best educational environment for their child than the state can," Stam said. "This empowers parents of limited means to make that choice effectively."

Under the legislation, $90 million in state taxpayer money would be set aside over the next two years to pay up to 90 percent of the cost of private school. The average amount would be $3,900, meaning about 13,000 students a year – about 1 percent of public school enrollment statewide – could be served.

"The vast majority of the children will still be in the traditional public schools," Stam said. "The vast amount of the resources will still be in the public schools."

Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said public money shouldn't pay for private schools, even for just a few students.

"If you start taking those resources out of public schools, that's less that we have in public schools to be able to provide a quality education for the students who attend public school, which I might add we're not able to select and be selective about. We have to take every student as they enter our buildings," Ellis said.

North Carolina is already near the bottom nationwide in spending on schools. Ellis said cutting more is not the way to improve them.

"We can provide the necessary support for students in our schools. We just need the resources to do it," he said.

Stam's bill would allow a family of four earning up to $53,000 to apply for tuition aid in 2013-14, and that would rise to $71,000 the following year.

"If that's going to be the case, we think that many of those students are already in a position where they can afford to go to private or charter schools," Ellis said.

213 Comments

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  • Smilester Apr 18, 2:31 p.m.

    Taxpayer money is wasted on public schools every year.

    You obviously have not been inside a school in a long time if you believe this. Quit buying the party line from the Republican party. NC ranks 12th in student performance in the country while we are 48th in expenditure per student. That tells me that the teachers in our state are going above and beyond in their classrooms despite a serious lack of commitment and support from our state government. This is the same state government that guarantees EVERY citizen of NC a right to an Education.

  • Smilester Apr 18, 2:27 p.m.

    Don't ask for anyone to pay for your kids to go to public schools, or get Medicaid, or provide for their "special needs" or anything else. Don't ask for anyone to pay for anything you want; then and only then will we be on even ground here.

    Please don't ask for police assistance either when you are tied up in your house by these kids who should be in a classroom.

  • Smilester Apr 18, 2:26 p.m.

    "WOW, again with the jealousy of Art Pope who has nothing at all to do with this. The dems just can't stand for anyone to have money that they can't get their hands on. What has Art Pope done to you?"

    If you really believe Art Pope has nothing to do with all of this stuff you have your head in the sand. The dude has used his foundation, money & influence to try to destroy public education for over a decade now. He used the same money & power to get McCrory elected & then he magically becomes the state treasurer? Please. If you don't understand who is pulling the strings it is because you don't want to. Jealousy has nothing to do with it.

  • Smilester Apr 18, 1:24 p.m.

    Why doesn't Stam just hand over the $90 million to Art Pope. He is the one running this state.

  • krimson Apr 17, 3:20 p.m.

    "the money that is spent on the schools is wasted big time!"

    So you'd rather that money go to a specific family (not your own) instead of the general public at large???

    You can have your opinion regarding the quality of education, I won't begrudge you that. But supporting taking your own tax-money and handing it to someone else so their kid can attend private school is pretty asinine, IMO...

    Why not call on the GOP and DNC leaders to make real and substantial changes in the schools so that your money is not wasted, instead of calling on your money to go to a few select families in the state???

  • driverkid3 Apr 17, 2:57 p.m.

    NiceNSmooth::::well looks like Art Pope is going to get richer!!!

    WOW, again with the jealousy of Art Pope who has nothing at all to do with this. The dems just can't stand for anyone to have money that they can't get their hands on. What has Art Pope done to you? The fact that he has money and you pick up pennies from the street seems to have made you and others very bitter.

  • driverkid3 Apr 17, 2:53 p.m.

    Plenty Coups::::Just don't ask me to pay for your kid to go to a private school.

    Don't ask for anyone to pay for your kids to go to public schools, or get Medicaid, or provide for their "special needs" or anything else. Don't ask for anyone to pay for anything you want; then and only then will we be on even ground here.

  • cblackman Apr 17, 2:47 p.m.

    We already pay taxes for our public schools and would continue to do so....if we decide to use a private institution then this is removing a student from their roster so some sort of tax credit, voucher, etc., should be furnished...

  • driverkid3 Apr 17, 1:53 p.m.

    PurpleandGold, so you think education in public schools is free? Where have you been for the past 60 years or so? Taxpayer money is wasted on public schools every year. I say wasted because these kids are not learning anything. Teachers can't teach a smaller class size without TA's. Kids rule the roost in the class rooms; the money that is spent on the schools is wasted big time!

  • goldenosprey Apr 17, 1:17 p.m.

    First, driverkid, no dem would have written this bill.

    Where do you suggest we warehouse these kids that in your opinion, don't belong in school?

    All the years I've been working I've paid tons of taxes to fund our bloated military complex, even though I have no vital overseas oil investments to protect. Possibly, the benefit of more or less stable oil prices inure to me just as living in a society where people are educated benefits you.

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