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What We’re Thankful for in the New State Budget

Last week, the GOP budget was signed by Governor Cooper. Here are a few of our favorites from the spending plan.


SCHOOL CHOICE

We have urged the funding of House Bill 32, Equity in Opportunity Act to expand the state's Opportunity Scholarship program since February. The bill makes private schools and micro-schools accessible to many families for the first time. As part of the bill, special needs scholarship programs is simplified and funfing for an outreach program is included.


Under the new spending plan, the income cutoff for the Opportunity Scholarships voucher program will be raised from 150 percent of the federal free lunch cutoff to 200 percent. The current cost for a family of two is about $48,300, which will rise to about $56,400. For a family of four, the income threshold increases from about $73,000 per year to about $85,000 per year.


It is now possible for students to receive a scholarship up to $5,900 - 90% of the state's per-pupil public school spending for a full-time student. Each year, the amount of scholarship funds increases along with the amount of public school spending.


Scholarships are also now available to students who turn 4 on or before April 16 and are accepted to a private school and are enrolled in Kindergarten.

Danielle Nicole Robinson

“Our students need to be able to compete, especially in my community,” says Education First Alliance’s Dannielle Nicole Robinson. “Education has been instrumental in lifting children out of poverty, keeping them out of the circle of criminal activity and unnecessary involvement with the criminal justice system.”

“Public schools now are focused on teaching things like exploratory gender studies and critical race theory which is not a positive,” says Robinson. “Minority children are being encouraged to be angry at someone else, white students are being made to think less of themselves due to radical agendas, but all children are missing the esteem and educational components they need to be receiving in school.”

SPECIAL NEEDS GRANTS

NC Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities combines the Children with Disabilities Grant and Education Savings Account programs into one program, with over $31.6M for the 2022-23 school year. The Disabilities Grant will receive an increase of $5.95M, while the Educational Support Assistance program will receive an increase of $9.65M.

This program will no longer require public school attendance. A student may be eligible for an award of up to $9,000, and $4,500 for part-time students. A student with certain disabilities may be eligible for an award of up to $17,000. For students with greater needs, funds remaining at the end of the school year will carry forward, not exceeding $4,500 for each renewal year, but not to exceed $30,000.

HOLOCAUST EDUCATION

The budget directs the State Board of Education to review high school and middle school curriculums and integrate teaching the Holocaust and genocide into English and social studies courses. We will closely monitor how well the State Board carries out the required review.


The education should provide ways to identify warning signs that may indicate genocide is imminent. The study of the Holocaust, if done properly, should illustrate the danger of prejudice, discrimination, antisemitism, and dehumanization - most of which is now taking place under the teachings of CRT.




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