By Mike Long
You have probably heard the phrase "Elections have consequences." If you want to see a tragic example of this, look no further than Pennsylvania.
During last night’s State of the Union address, we heard about Stephanie Davis and her daughter, Janiya, a 4th grade student who has suffered for years in low-performing traditional public schools in Philadelphia. As a hard-working single mother, Stephanie wanted something better for her daughter. So, she applied for Pennsylvania’s tax-credit scholarship program.
But now, Janiya has joined 50,000 other students on a waitlist because Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf decided to veto a bill to expand the scholarship for new students.
Let us not miss exactly what happened here: A single mom and her daughter were denied the opportunity of a lifetime because their choice was taken away by politicians who do not like the idea of low-income kids finding a better school. What a shame.
Meanwhile back in North Carolina, hundreds of new families are—right now—applying for our state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, a program that if Governor Roy Cooper had his way, would be unavailable to these families. Governor Cooper has repeatedly made defunding and dismantling Opportunity Scholarships a key budget priority during his administration.
These scholarships provide up to $4,200 each year for students from over 12,000 low-income and working-class families to flourish in the educational environment of their parent’s choice. That is a privilege that more fortunate North Carolina families already enjoy—those with the incomes high enough to buy a house in a good public school district or pay private school tuition on their own. Without Opportunity Scholarships, low-income families can remain stuck.
I for one will not sit by while Governor Cooper, time-and-time again, works to encroach on North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program and PEFNC remains dedicated to ensuring families in our state are educated about where important elected officials stand on this very issue. It is important that every parent know who wants their children to have access to an Opportunity Scholarship—and who does not.
Mike Long is the President of PEFNC and shares his perspective from his 35-years as an educator with experience as a middle school teacher, an AP US History teacher, a high school principal and a Head of School.