As the Democratic Candidate for N.C House District 37, I am opposed to North Carolina House Bill 41. This bill, co sponsored by my opponent Paul Stam, offers a $2500.00 tax credit to families who switch their children from public to private school. I have several objections to this Bill as written. First, private schools are expensive and although tax credits are given, the reality is that parents still have to be able to afford tuition. The benefit that this Bill offers will not extend to low income families who would also like the privilege of sending their children to private school. The Bill allows parents who make a combined income under $100,000 to use this tax credit. This will encourage families to have their children leave the public school system, taking away stay at home parents who often have the time and means to volunteer at their children's public schools. Many private schools will also not offer children the transportation, reduced lunch cost and affordable extracurricular activities, that public schools can provide. Thus, we have a Bill that will cater to those who can afford to leave the public school system.
Second, I believe our legislature's focus should be on building our public school system. Providing a means of "flight" is not putting our State's priority on improving public education. A counter argument is that by creating competition, it will in turn improve our public school system. However, the reality is that the competition will be between the "haves" and "have nots" (children whose parents can afford private education and those that cannot). I would not want public schools to be viewed as the second rate alternative for those whom the state could not help to receive a private education.
Finally there are questions regarding what accountability these private schools will have and whether the savings to taxpayers would be as great as stated, due to the fixed costs that public schools will have regardless of the amount of students that they lose. I would urge the legislature to not pass this Bill as it is not in the best interest of many of the children in our state.