Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, if not millions, could go to religious schools in Wake County this fall under the state’s new Opportunity Scholarship program.
As noted in today’s article by Samantha Gilman, the State Education Assistance Authority began Wednesday the selection lottery to determine which low-income families would get $4,200 vouchers that they can use to attend a private school this fall. If the application period is an indication, a lot of the $10 million would go toward religious schools.
Families could list where they’d want to use the voucher. All but one of the top 10 requested schools in Wake County is a religious school.
• Al -Iman School, Raleigh – 86
• Word of God Christian Academy, Raleigh – 61
• Raleigh Christian Academy, Raleigh – 55
• North Raleigh Christian Academy, Raleigh – 41
• Upper Room Christian Academy, Raleigh – 28
• Wake Christian Academy, Raleigh – 27
• Ravenscroft School, Raleigh – 26
• St. Raphael’s Catholic School, Raleigh – 18
• Friendship Christian School, Raleigh – 15
• Grace Christian School, Raleigh and Hilltop Christian School, Fuquay-Varina – 14
The actual amount going to any school will depend on the selection lottery.
Of the 5,552 applicants, 784 were from Wake County. The state is determining which of the applicants is eligible for a voucher. Unless more money is appropriated, there’s only enough for 2,400 scholarships.
“Parents want options,” said Choya Boykin, principal of Word of God Christian Academy. “I think it would give us an excellent opportunity to serve the students and parents who want to have an option of where to send their children and to fulfill our vision of having a Christ-centered education with a small classroom setting.”
But opponents of the voucher program contend that it’s unconstitutional.
“Those dollars are being funneled into faith-based schools, and we have an issue with taxpayer dollars going into a school that supports a religion,” said Mark Jewell, vice president of the N.C. Association of Educators, one of the groups suing to block the program. “It’s a violation of the separation of church and state.”