Raleigh, NC (July 23, 2015) – Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC), the state’s voice for educational choice, applauds the ruling today from the North Carolina State Supreme Court affirming the constitutionality of the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
Below is a statement from Darrell Allison, President of PEFNC:
“We are thankful to the Justices of the North Carolina State Supreme Court for believing that any program which helps ensure all children have access to a sound, basic education is serving a public purpose. We applaud them for recognizing that education is ultimately a personal right belonging to our citizens, not a governmental agency or system. We join the thousands of families across the state who are celebrating today because the Court has given them the legal right to exercise educational choice through the Opportunity Scholarship Program. We are thrilled for the many low-income students currently on the Program and the many more who need this option in the future.
It has been a difficult battle, yet even with the legal challenges in place parents have been resilient through many highs and lows of this journey. Their resolve and determination to secure their children’s access to a high-quality education, despite economic challenges, has been inspiring to me, personally. Since the battle began in February 2014, over 11,000 applications have flooded in from low-income families representing nearly every part of our state. This year, over 90 percent of families who are currently in the Program have applied to renew their scholarships. The message from parents has been clear: ‘We will not back down. We will not give up. We will win this fight for our children.’ Today, their tenacious aspirations for their children’s future were validated by the state’s highest Court.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled the Opportunity Scholarship Program constitutional in our state, it is imperative that our supporters and critics alike understand that the Program is not and will never be the sole silver bullet to solve all of the challenges faced by many families in our education system. To the contrary, this Program will be just one small piece of the comprehensive K-12 puzzle that will be utilized to complement our state’s public education system, not compete against it. Regardless of what school model a parent chooses, we must never forget that we are in this together and are fighting for the same thing: an education that rightly serves every child in North Carolina regardless of their geographic location or income status.
Lastly, and ever so importantly, I want to extend a sincere and genuine thank you to Senate President Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, and members of the General Assembly for their fearless, continued legal support of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Due to their active faith in the ideals of parental school choice, families will prosper in the freedom that real choice provides. I also salute the state’s attorneys, and especially our partners from the Institute of Justice, for their tireless work in representing parents in this case.”
In today’s decision, the North Carolina Supreme Court Justices upheld all aspects of North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (see their opinions HERE and HERE). During the 2013 legislative session, the North Carolina legislature passed the Opportunity Scholarship Act, while in 2014 more than 5,500 families applied for nearly 2,400 scholarships for their children to attend the private school of their choice. This year, over 5,500 applications have been submitted for new and renewal scholarships since February 1.
PEFNC is a statewide organization that supports greater educational options through parental school choice, such as the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The Program, passed in July 2013, creates scholarships of up to $4,200 for low-income and working-class families to attend a private school. To be eligible for a scholarship for the 2015-2016 school year, household income must not exceed 133% of the amount to qualify for free and reduced price lunch (about $59,668 for a family of 4).