FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Lawmakers Take Pioneering Steps
For Education Freedom This Session
Opportunity Scholarship Act and Children with Disabilities Grants
are two key pieces in this year’s education reforms
RALEIGH (PEFNC) July 21, 2013 – On behalf of the thousands of families searching for an academic environment that best meets their children’s unique needs, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) applauds the General Assembly for taking pioneering steps to expand educational opportunities for every child in our state.
“The Opportunity Scholarship Act and Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants represent a growing momentum in our state to ensure that every child receives the education best suited to their needs, which we know will help increase the quality of education they receive,” said Darrell Allison, PEFNC president. “This week marks an important milestone for school choice in North Carolina as the state budget compromise, which includes the Opportunity Scholarship Act, returns to the House and Senate for a final vote and the children with disabilities measure awaits agreement in the House.”
The Opportunity Scholarship Act allows low-income and working-class parents to receive scholarships of up to $4,200 to send their children to a school of their choice. Upon approval, North Carolina will become the 10th state in the nation with such a program.
“Opportunity Scholarships are a critical cornerstone in meeting the growing needs of children who show up at the schoolhouse doors each year still unable to read, write, and solve math problems at grade level,” Allison said. “This measure is a great start but, as evidenced by the success of these programs in other states, we know that more will be needed so that no child will have their education shortchanged due to a lack of availability.
“Also, we appreciate the hard work of Reps. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg), Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford), Brian Brown (R-Pitt) and Ed Hanes (D-Forsyth) for sponsoring this important education policy and for Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger for their leadership on this measure.”
Children with Disabilities Grants
State lawmakers are also poised to expand options for special needs children with House Bill 269 (Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants). The measure is expected to be voted in the House this week before arriving at the governor’s desk. The program converts the Tax Credit for Children with Disabilities, which became law in 2011, into grants so that low-income and working-class families can also access critical special needs services for their children. Lawmakers realized that many families couldn’t get the tax credit due to their lack of income. Only 619 families claimed the tax credit in 2011 and 485 families claimed it so far this year, according to the state Department of Revenue.
“With this small but significant adjustment of the program, we anticipate that these numbers families accessing this program to increase now that the financial barrier will be removed for so many,” Allison said. “Among the many legislators who supported this measure, we appreciate the work Speaker Pro Tempore Paul Stam has done in shepherding this measure through the General Assembly.”
Urging lawmaker support
“North Carolina has made significant strides this year to provide diverse, educational options for children who are currently drowning in environments with low expectations, bullies or are trapped in a school that just doesn’t work for them,” Allison said. “On behalf of the thousands of low-income and working-class families across North Carolina who depend on the creation and expansion of these programs, we urge our lawmakers to continue supporting these measures and we are confident that Gov. McCrory will sign them into law.”
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Media Relations Director
Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina
Cell: (919) 641-0469