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Governor Cooper Sues to Stop Scholarships for Low-Income Students

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Late last Summer, Governor Roy Cooper added to his extensive list of lawsuits by adding a section to one of them that seeks to block Opportunity Scholarship money for low-income students.

You read that correctly. The Governor wants to strip 6,775 students of the education they selected and which their parents feel is the best fit for their child.

Why? Because Cooper is literally in a power pissing contest with the General Assembly.

Cooper contends that because of the law requiring that forward-funding for the Opportunity Scholarship Program be included in NC’s base budget, that it’s unconstitutional because it isn’t in line with his executive authority to propose his own budget.

“But for the unconstitutional interference by the General Assembly, the Governor would not include nearly a billion dollars in vouchers in his proposed budget during his term.”

Yet, nothing stopped Cooper from slashing the program out of his proposed budget last year.  He’s publicly stated he would not include anything in his budget and he didn’t. He was not constrained.

Cooper’s using the court to try to kill scholarships for poor kids because he ideologically is opposed to them. Cooper is not ideologically opposed to spending $19 million of your tax money on “free” community college though.

This attack on one form of ‘choice’ while protecting another shouldn’t shock anyone. Afterall, look at the current flip-flopping, hypocritical mess Cooper has gotten himself into with the pipeline slush fund.

Cooper is suing over offshore drilling, but a pipeline right through our state is fine – for $58 million. A little birdie tells me there is even more money in it for Cooper. Allegedly, he’s sitting on property in Nash County that will be worth quite a bit of money when/if the pipeline goes through.

Cooper’s Assault Gets Called Out

Cooper’s assault on children from low-income families, many of which are minority families, is not going without challenge.

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) is punching back and has filed motions with the court.  PEFNC has filed an Amicus Curiae Brief in support of the funding structure for Opportunity Scholarship Program.

The brief cites multiple rulings in favor of the program as being constitutional by the NC State Supreme Court. PEFNC’s filings also ask the Court to dismiss Governor Cooper’s claim that “requiring forward-funding for the Program in the state’s base budget is unconstitutional.”

“Enough is enough,” said PEFNC President Darrell Allison in a press release. “The Governor’s efforts to pull the Opportunity Scholarship Program into yet another lawsuit is very disappointing and disheartening.”

“Forward-funding of the Opportunity Scholarship Program is crucial to its success,” said Allison. “Our filing shows the Court not only why this law is constitutional, but how history has shown that—but for having this budgeting procedure in place—the desperate hopes and dreams of these families will be dashed.”

Allison went on to slam Cooper ‘s anti-school choice and choosing “politics over parents.”

“I’m afraid the Governor is choosing politics over parents. His opposition to parental school choice has been reported on—or directly quoted in—more than 162 news stories, viewed and heard over 8 million times by readers and listeners,” said Allison.  “He campaigned aggressively against the Program and has continued his relentless assault since assuming office.”

“In fact, within his inaugural budget recommendations to the North Carolina General Assembly, Governor Cooper cut all future funding for the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which would have essentially killed it by preventing new families the opportunity to apply,” said Allison.

Despite the practical and necessary reasons for forward-funding legislation, it appears the Governor seeks to, with his amended filing, cloak his well-established intention to dismantle the Opportunity Scholarship Program under the guise of a constitutional argument,” Allison added.

Cooper is Anti-School Choice

It is no secret Cooper is anti-school choice. He doesn’t hide it and said outright at the 2017 Eggs and Issues forum, hosted annually by the NC Public School Forum, that he would end funding for the program.

Cooper said that “vouchers should not be in that list” when it comes to education funding priorities with limited resources.

Keith Poston and Roy Cooper at Eggs & Issues 2017 – Image: A.P. Dillon

“I am very concerned and have opposed vouchers because of the lack of accountability. We really don’t know what these schools are doing or how they are performing. I think instead we need to invest in our public schools,” said Cooper during the 2017 Eggs and Issues interview.

Public School Forum’s Keith Poston doesn’t correct the Governor at all, despite knowing full well the Opportunity Scholarship Program has its own funding and is not part of the education budget.

A mother in Wake County, who asked not to be identified, has two children enrolled in the opportunity scholarship program. She said she considered Cooper’s remarks to be, “an insult to the thousands of low-income parents” like her who are taking advantage of the Opportunity Scholarship Program.

She also said that “My children deserve every opportunity to be matched to a school that is the best fit for them. My husband and I are responsible for their education choices, not the state of North Carolina and we as parents hold our choice of school accountable every single day.

 

The 2017 Eggs and Issues took place around the same time as School Choice Week. I attended the event in person and wrote about it,  juxtaposing it with an actual school choice event going on.  The difference between the two events was beyond startling.

His unelected ‘education commission‘ is stacked with anti-school choice zealots. It would not shock me at all if this commission is used as a weapon in an attempt to dismantle school choice in North Carolina.

Related: Roy Cooper’s Weird Email On Education

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