Friday, May 3, 2024

Republicans Make Taxpayer-Funded Private School Vouchers for Millionaires a Top Priority Instead of Increasing Teacher Pay and Funding Public Schools With New Expansion, Republicans Funneling $625 Million in Taxpayer Money to Millionaires and Robbing Public Schools of Critical Funding

May 3, 2024

Yesterday, Republican legislators signaled that one of their top priorities this session is using more taxpayer money to fund private school vouchers for millionaires instead of increasing teacher pay or fully funding North Carolina’s public schools where more than 8 in 10 students receive an education.

“Of all the important issues in North Carolina, the top priority for Republicans is funneling taxpayer money into private school vouchers for the wealthy instead of giving teachers a decent pay raise,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “This is catastrophic for the hardworking educators who deserve higher pay and the families with children in public schools whose education is threatened by this reckless desire to give a government handout to millionaires.”

Legislators put forth this bill as a standalone piece of legislation that will not be included in the budget, indicating their steadfast commitment to making sure millionaires can use taxpayer money to send their children to unaccountable private schools. Most of this new money will go to taxpayer-funded vouchers for the more than 39,000 wealthiest families who applied for vouchers.

With this bill, the General Assembly is choosing to put more than $625 million in new funding just for the 2024-25 fiscal year into providing taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools. Governor Cooper’s budget proposal provides a different path that invests in our public schools and early childhood and child care system. Instead of wasting $625 million in taxpayer dollars on private school vouchers, legislators could be

  • Providing an 8.5% average raise for teachers, which would lift beginning teacher pay to first in the Southeast, and
  • Providing a $1,500 retention bonus to most public school educators, and
  • Hiring 575 more nurses, counselors, social workers and psychologists for public schools across the state.

Or legislators could invest the $625 million to address the early childhood education and child care crisis facing many communities across the state by

  • Increasing child care subsidies for working families primarily in rural and low-wealth communities so their kids can get quality care and they can go to work, and
  • Shoring up our nationally-recognized NC Pre-K program to cover the full cost of care for more than 29,000 NC Pre-K students and providing summer programs for students once they complete NC Pre-K and before they enter kindergarten, and
  • Keeping child care centers open with Child Care Stabilization Grants and enhancement grants.

Recently, the Governor released a video walking through the problems with this extreme taxpayer-funded voucher expansion, along with a fact sheet.

Public schools lose funding when a student uses a voucher to attend a private school. If the voucher program works like Republicans say it will, public schools will lose millions:

  • Public schools are funded based on how many students are enrolled. For each enrolled student, public schools currently receive an average of $7,500 in state funding to cover various expenses, such as teacher salaries, instructional materials, or transportation.
  • Under the voucher program, if a public school student uses a voucher to attend a private school, the public schools lose that funding. In just the first year of the expanded program, private schools could siphon more than $200 million in state funding from public schools.
  • And unlike public schools, private schools don’t have to have licensed teachers, pay for meals or transportation, or provide services to disabled students and they can reject students they don’t want to teach.

Over the past several weeks, public reporting has raised serious questions about schools receiving taxpayer money despite extreme social agendas, like defending rape. Media stories have also pointed out that many of the state’s top private schools don’t accept state vouchers, meaning students are not afforded new opportunities at the best schools.

All the while, the public schools and public charter schools that continue to serve more than 80% of students are often being asked to do more with less. It is critical that legislators put a moratorium on destructive private school vouchers until North Carolina’s public schools are fully funded.

Watch the Governor’s video here.

Read more about the truth of North Carolina's voucher program here.


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