Last week I wrote a much need article which dispelled the myths and misinformation on North Carolina Charter Schools.
This week, I will lay out the facts about the second school choice option being hammered by misinformation, the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP).
The Opportunity Scholarship Program:
- Does not ‘steal’ money from the education budget. The OSP has its own, separate funding managed by the NC State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA).
- Awards up to $2,100 per student per semester ($4,200 per school year).
- Grant money is paid directly to the school by the NCSEAA.
- Covers K-12 tuition/fees for eligible families at the participating non-public school of their choice.
- Is not ‘resegregating’ schools. The most recent data posted on 12/31/17 of the racial makeup of the applicants, minority students make up 45.01%. Black students make up 35% of that total. White students stand at 41% and 14% are listed as “other”. The racial makeup of the actual recipients closed matched but shifted slightly for minorities with 32% being black students and 9% Hispanic. Access the data sets HERE.
- Has accountability. The argument that the private schools receiving OSP grants are not accountable is a direct insult to all parents and students and ignores the very basic idea that private schools are as their name states – they are private. Families make a huge investment of time, vetting and research when shopping for a school. Families have the ultimate form of accountability: Staying at a school or leaving it.
- Again, has accountability. Private schools are required by state statute to test their kids using a nationally recognized, standardized test.
- Is for low-income households, not ‘rich families’. Families must meet a specific income threshold to be eligible. Below is the most recent income threshold chart published by the NCSEAA.
More Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible, a student must meet all the following requirements:
- is 5 years old on or before August 31
- lives in an eligible household
- has not graduated from high school
- is a resident of North Carolina
- has not been in college
Additionally, to be eligible, students also need to meet one of the following:
- received an Opportunity Scholarship last year
- was a full-time student attending an NC public school or Department of Defense school in NC last spring semester
- is entering kindergarten or 1st grade
- is in foster care or was adopted within the last year
- has a parent on full-time active duty with the military
More OSP Facts:
- A 2015 Civitas poll reported that overall approval for the program stood at 68% with a high percentage of minorities (80%) supporting it. 75% of registered Democrats who responded supported the program.
- The program is wildly popular, with more applicants than available grants each year. In 2013-14, 5,558 applied. That number has nearly doubled to 10,578.
- In 2016, the NC General Assembly included expansion of the OSP in their budget.
- In 2016-17, the NCSEAA administered 5,624 Opportunity Scholarships and 1,144 Disabilities Grants for K-12 totaling $21,760,837. That is an increase of 50% from prior year. In 2015-16, 3,682 Opportunity Scholarships were awarded totaling $13,149,842.
- The top 5 districts with schools receiving OSP funds as of 12/31/17 are Cumberland County (1,217), Mecklenburg County (1,198), Wake County (951), Guilford County (619), and Onslow County (459).
OSP Resources and Links: