ALLISON: Right to a quality education isn't 'nonsense'

The following op-ed was written by Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, and appeared on June 4 in the Ashville Citizen-Times.

The Citizen-Times’ May 25 editorial titled “Assembly hits our public schools again’’ described a measure that would help low-income Asheville parents like Tangela Harper as “nonsense.” Tangela is a working mom currently looking for an alternative education for her son but has not been able to find an affordable option that meets his needs.

House Bill 1104 N.C. Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program allows corporations to receive a tax credit for contributions helping poor children attend a nonpublic school through scholarships. The Citizen-Times claims this would divert needed funds away from public schools, but research has shown that Florida, one of nine states with a tax credit scholarship program, has saved more than $98 million since 2001. House Bill 1104 is expected to save North Carolina more than $28 million within the first three years which can then be reinvested into public schools.

“I don’t think it’s nonsense to give my sons an equal opportunity to succeed in school,” Tangela said. “When I hear how children like mine are performing on state tests, now that’s nonsense because they deserve better.”

Tangela is referring to statistics that show that only 50 percent of poor children in Buncombe County passed end-of-grade tests over the past five years compared with more than 80 percent of their wealthier peers, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. These numbers are consistently low for poor children across our state despite taxpayers spending more than $37 billion on education since 2007, per DPI numbers. In spite of tremendous spending, our poor kids are still missing the mark. Now that’s nonsense.

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