Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Correcting the Record on the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program

Legislators in North Carolina are looking to enact House Bill 1104, a scholarship tax credit program that will help students from low-income families.  The bill has strong bipartisan support and includes high academic, financial, and administrative accountability standards. 

And despite attempts from opponents to paint an inaccurate picture of what the legislation is going to do, our friends at Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) have been making sure that the billand school choice more generallyare accurately portrayed in the media.

Yesterday, Darrell Allison, president of PEFNC, wrote in The Ashville Citizen Times that, despite an opponent writing recently that the proposed legislation was "nonsense," quality educational options are in reality far from it:

Tangela is a working mom currently looking for an alternative education for her son but has not been able to find an affordable option that meets his needs.

House Bill 1104 N.C. Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program allows corporations to receive a tax credit for contributions helping poor children attend a nonpublic school through scholarships. The Citizen-Times claims this would divert needed funds away from public schools, but research has shown that Florida, one of nine states with a tax credit scholarship program, has saved more than $98 million since 2001. House Bill 1104 is expected to save North Carolina more than $28 million within the first three years which can then be reinvested into public schools.

“I don’t think it’s nonsense to give my sons an equal opportunity to succeed in school,” Tangela said. “When I hear how children like mine are performing on state tests, now that’s nonsense because they deserve better.”

And Allison was doing the same in The Star News last week:

Fewer than half of poor children in New Hanover County passed end-of-grade tests over the past five years compared to over 80 percent of their wealthier peers, and New Hanover's average achievement gap for low-income students on end-of-grade tests was 33.6 percent – higher than the state average of 30.36 percent, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. The achievement gap, in this case, is the difference in academic performance between groups of students, especially those defined by gender, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

These numbers keep Alfredia McDonald up at night. Ms. McDonald is a Wilmington grandmother who is often concerned about whether her 7-year-old grandson will succeed in school. She is just one of several thousand parents and/or guardians who would benefit from House Bill 1104 Scholarship Funding Corporate Tax Credit.

"It's hard for parents like me to afford a quality school when the cost is so out of reach," she said. "But I will sacrifice to make up the difference in order to provide my grandson with a good education."

House Bill 1104 Scholarship Funding Corporate Tax Credit was recently filed in the General Assembly because of parents like Fredia and thousands more like her. The measure allows N.C. corporations to receive a tax credit for contributions given on behalf of poor children to attend a nonpublic school through scholarships. The average tuition for North Carolina's 700 private schools is approximately $5,400. Thus, a scholarship of up to $4,000 is more than reasonable and would go a long way in giving parents like Fredia a fighting chance to afford private school for her grandson – if such an education would better serve him.


At the end of the day, "public education" should be viewed as effectively educating all of our children, not just focusing on one educational model or pitting one against the other. House Bill 1104 helps ensure that all children, regardless of income or zip code, receive their constitutional right to a quality education.

House Bill 1104 will give North Carolina families who otherwise wouldn't have a choice access to a quality education.  Here at School Choice Now!, we not only want to see high-quality programs enacted, but we applaud the efforts in North Carolina to model their legislation after programs around the country that are popular among parents, show strong academic achievement and attainment, and are transforming the lives of kids.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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