Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are included in the state budget that is almost assuredly about to be passed in the North Carolina General Assembly. But Democrats and various left-leaning mouthpieces have slammed ESAs and, by extension, the help they give to disabled children and dependents of active-duty military personnel.
For people who claim they are compassionate and caring about children, they are disgracing themselves.
ESAs are quite simple. Much like the existing, very popular Opportunity Scholarship Program, they make possible an alternative to the traditional public school education for parents who are seeking such a choice.
In the proposed budget, ESAs provide up to $9,000 for children with mental or physical disabilities and for dependents of active military personnel. The money is given to the eligible parents, in the form of a pre-loaded debit card, which can be used to pay for private school tuition, books, medical therapies, tutoring and other educational expenses.
To address concerns, the program requires parents to submit a quarterly expense report showing that the student received an education for no less than 35 days of the applicable quarter. Unused funds at the end of a quarter may be carried over to the next quarter.
During the budget debate in Wednesday’s House session, Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) said succinctly that the idea behind ESAs is, “to help parents and children.” More specifically, ESAs allow parents to choose how and where their child is educated, and there are safeguards to ensure the funds are spent properly. What can be wrong with that?
But the “party of compassion” strongly opposes ESAs.
Rep. William Richardson (D-Cumberland) gave a lengthy critique of the budget during Wednesday’s debate. Unintentionally, however, he made the point as to why programs such as Opportunity Scholarships, charter schools, home schools and ESAs are growing in demand among parents of school children in North Carolina. When Richardson said, “83 percent of the high school students in North Carolina can’t pass all four provisions of the ACT test,” he legitimized the need for alternatives to traditional public schools.
Parents are demanding alternatives to traditional public school education precisely because of the poor outcomes in learning that are rampant across the state despite the billions that are spent every year.
Richardson said he was advocating for more money for public schools, when in fact funding for public schools has grown consistently since 2011 under Republican leadership and will grow again under the current budget proposal.
The veneer of their self-characterization as the “party of compassion,” erodes quickly as the Democrats and their partners on the Left show that their real concern is for taxpayer dollars to flow into a bloated, ineffective education bureaucracy.
Their real battle cry may as well be: “Kids who are disabled and the children of active duty military are not nearly as important as big government.” That’s a long way from real compassion.