North Carolina legislature proposes budget strong on K-12 education

Expands Opportunity Scholarship Program, Increases Teacher Pay, Increases Funding for Special Needs School Choice Program

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauds the North Carolina House and Senate for their proposed budget strengthening K-12 education and expanding educational opportunity in the state. The budget would significantly increase funding for the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program to give scholarships to nearly 36,000 low-income students over the next 10 years. It also would increase overall K-12 spending by $500 million, including for teacher salaries and the Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant.

“North Carolina is committed to providing all children with a quality education, and we are pleased with their decision to increase funding for those students and families who are most in need of educational choice well into the future,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “We join our allies at Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) in thanking Senator Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and legislative leadership for giving low-income and special needs families greater access to school choice.”

The North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program currently serves over 3,600 children from low-income families. The proposed expansion of program funding would help to meet the widespread demand for scholarships. Funding would increase from $44 million for the 2017-18 school year to almost $145 million for the 2027-28 school year – allowing over 36,000 students to receive a scholarship through the program.

“Today, with more than 22,300 applications submitted for the Opportunity Scholarship Program since its inception in 2013, this proposed budget is an acknowledgement to the thousands of working class families who never gave up on this program in hopes of it being a real game-changer for their children…With hopeful passage of this budget and signature by our governor, North Carolina will palpably demonstrate that this state will no longer allow income and geography to remain barriers to ensuring that all children – especially those who happen to be low-income or disabled – have the opportunity to the best education our state has to offer,” said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC).

The proposed budget will now go to the House and Senate floor for votes and then to the Governor’s desk.