by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
The demand for private school scholarships continues to be strong. Now it is time for lawmakers to step up to the plate.
Currently, there are over 2,100 low-income students on the wait list for an Opportunity Scholarship. Over the last six weeks, the NC State Education Assistance Authority, which oversees the program for the state, has received over 950 new applications (and counting). An additional appropriation of $8 million would ensure that the state provides Opportunity Scholarships for current recipients and qualified applicants.
In addition, there are over 300 students on the wait list for a Special Needs Scholarship. While Governor McCrory and House budget writers added $5.8 million to meet the demand for scholarships, the Senate did not.
For the sake of the thousands of families who are desperate for school choice, House and Senate budget conferees must agree to fully fund both the Opportunity Scholarship and the Special Needs Scholarship programs this year. Additionally, it would be sensible for lawmakers to consider a long-term plan to address the increasing desire for educational options among low-income families and families with special needs children.