Last week, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger angrily and directly acknowledged that the legislature’s school voucher expansion is funded through cuts to public schools.
How the Republican Voucher Scheme Works:
- Billions of dollars will be used to fund vouchers for private school tuition.
- No income cap, meaning even millionaires can get taxpayer funding to pay tuition for high-end private schools.
- Private schools that get voucher money do not have to hire licensed teachers, provide meals, transportation, or services for disabled students. Private schools do not have to tell the taxpayers what they teach, how well their students perform, which students they’ll accept or reject, or whether the students they accept even show up at all.
- When students leave public school for private school, state funding goes with them, leaving public schools that serve more than 8 in 10 North Carolina students with less funding to pay teachers, purchase supplies, and even keep the lights on.
In an interview with WBTV, Senator Berger doubled down on providing private school vouchers to wealthy families and cutting funding from local public schools if students leave for private school. Under this dangerous plan, public schools in Senator Berger’s home county of Rockingham would lose more than $1.9 million in FY 2026-27 alone.
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REPORTER: “Berger said public schools aren’t the right fit for every student and they should be able to take their taxpayer funding with them.”
BERGER: “It makes no sense whatsoever for someone to say – and try to say it with a straight face – that just because a child leaves the traditional public schools that the money should stay there.”
“As clear as day, Senator Berger brazenly outlined the legislature’s disastrous goal to hand out billions for vouchers to private schools while strangling our public schools,” said Jordan Monaghan, Deputy Communications Director. “The bottom line is this reckless voucher scheme hurts our neighborhood public schools where more than 8 out of 10 North Carolina students get a quality education and causes them to face catastrophic losses in funding.”
The most recent budget from the General Assembly expanded North Carolina’s unaccountable private school voucher program by $250 million over the next two years, for a total of $4 billion over the next ten years. Under this scheme, some school districts will lose up to 8% of their operating revenue to private schools and some rural schools may be forced to combine with other schools or to close. In more than a third of North Carolina counties, public schools are the largest employer and a top three employer in more than 80 counties – eviscerating their funding would have devastating impacts on the local economy.
Last week, Governor Cooper declared 2024 “The Year of Public Schools” and called for K-12 education and early childhood funding as well as meaningful investments in greater teacher pay in the upcoming legislative session. The Governor also called for a stop to state spending on vouchers for unaccountable and unregulated private schools until North Carolina’s public schools are fully funded.
This year, the Governor will highlight North Carolina’s strong public schools, teachers and staff across the state to show the positive impacts of a well-funded public education system on the state’s economy and communities. The Governor will also spotlight the dangers of underfunding our schools while pouring millions into in an unregulated private school voucher program that sends taxpayer money to private academies.