NC Republicans propose $1.3 billion expansion for private school vouchers

NC Republicans propose $1.3 billion expansion for private school vouchers
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 5:51 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - A bill making its way through the North Carolina General Assembly would expand scholarship opportunities for students to attend private school. It would also create scholarships for students who graduate from high school in three years instead of four.

Republicans, including Senator Michael Lee, say Senate Bill 406 would create the largest expansion of the state’s private school voucher program since it was created. Democrats, however, say it would take away much-needed money from public schools.

The bill would end income caps for families, and allow all families in the state access to some opportunity scholarship money to send their kids to private school.

“We’ve had kids in traditional school. We’ve had some of our children in charter school. We’ve had one of our children in a half-day special needs school and a half-day traditional school. We’ve had one child that was in a residential school, and we’ve had all these options because our children are very different,” said Lee.

Lee says it is important for families to have an option for where to send their children to school.

Deborah Dicks Maxwell, President of the North Carolina NAACP, says the bill would direct money to the wrong places.

“We have to make sure that our public school systems, which take the majority of the children in this state to educate them, are not denied the funding and the support that they need from out state senators, representatives, and anyone within the state of North Carolina,” said Maxwell.

If the bill becomes law, the state would dedicate $1.3 billion to private school vouchers over the next seven years.

“If we don’t start changing the focus in education and everything else with our children, that it needs to be centered around the child and the family, I think we’re really missing the boat and we’re failing our children,” Lee said.

A similar version of the bill has been introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives.