North Carolina’s school voucher debate has reached a conclusion, at least for this year. After the state established the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a state fund that provides scholarships or school vouchers for students to attend private schools in the state, the program has been challenged, halted, appealed and now implemented.
On Sept. 26, just over $1 million was released by the state and distributed to 109 private schools in the state. The scholarships were given to 568 students who were accepted into the state administered program that was developed to help lower income students attend private schools if they so desired. To qualify, a child must be currently enrolled in a North Carolina public school and reside in a household that qualifies for federal Free and Reduced Lunch (about $44,000 for a family of 4).
The constitutionality of the law was challenged immediately after it passed, with groups arguing that tax dollars shouldn’t be allocated to private or religious based schools. Religious schools account for about 70 percent of the state’s private schools. Of the schools in the state who received funding through the program, the Greensboro Islamic Academy received the most money, $90,300 for 43 enrolled students. Word of God Christian Academy located in Raleigh received $54,600 for 26 students. The schools who received funding were identified as being primarily Christian, Baptist, Catholic or Islamic.