The High Point Enterprise recently shared their thoughts on the NC Opportunity Scholarship Program and concluded that the NC legislature and Gov. Perdue should make it law. The board says given the number of low-income students failing state tests (over 336,000 last year), it is time that more educational opportunities be made available to help struggling students. Be sure to read their editorial below:
Maybe we missed something somewhere. But we just don’t see a down side to N.C. House Bill 1104 – the Scholarship Funding Corporate Tax Credit bill – which is making its way through the North Carolina House of Representatives.
In some venues, it’s been called a terrible bill that would harm the state’s public schools. But how is that the case when House Bill 1104 would seem to result in the pool of money available for education – whether by private or public institutions – actually expanding, not shrinking?
We suspect that those most critical of House Bill 1104 are those most connected with North Carolina’s system of public schools. They see anything that might be of benefit to private school education in the state as a detriment to public schools.
If House Bill 1104 is passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Beverly Perdue, the measure would extend to corporations a tax credit for qualifying contributions to private school scholarship funds for low-income students. The tax credit could be applied against a variety of taxes that are levied by the state on corporations.
According to supporters of the bill, allowing corporate contributions to such funds could raise tens of millions in money that would be available to help low-income students attend private schools of their choosing.
In a guest column published by the Enterprise Saturday, Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, noted that more than 336,000 students classified as poor failed state end-of-grade tests last year. Statistics from Guilford indicated that about 55 percent of poor students failed the tests, according to Allison.
The statistical evidence says high numbers of low-income students still are failing in public school settings despite improvement efforts among low-income students that are having some impact (such as the successes of programs at Oak Hill Elementary in High Point). Because of this fact, it just seems logical to expand the opportunities available for struggling students.
Poor students needing more specialized or more individualized instruction that a private school setting would provide could qualify for scholarships these corporate contributions would fund. Low-income parents of these students surely would welcome the opportunity these scholarships would provide for their children.
High Point Democratic Rep. Marcus Brandon is a primary co-sponsor of this legislation, along with his Republican colleagues, Reps. Paul Stam of Apex and Mike Hager of Rutherfordton. So this is not a partisan political bill, although some opponents have labeled it a GOP attack on public schools.
What this bill is is a creative strategy aiming to solve a pressing need that has been around for decades – matching funding, educational programs and students who desperately need them. The Legislature and the governor should make it law.