by Bob Geary
House Majority Leader Paul Stam's bill to support private schools with public funds — a.k.a. vouchers — won't be law any time soon. Despite his high status in the Republican Party, Stam couldn't get his plan funded in the state budget, and his efforts to get the bill enacted separately are apparently at an end today as the current "short" legislative session heads to a close.
Stam's bill failed, on an 11-11 vote, to win the House Finance Committee's approval this morning. I read that he filed a minority report and might try to bring the report to the House floor for a vote. But just now, Darrell Allison, of Parents for Educational Freedom in NC, the leading advocacy group for Stam's plan, told his supporters that the bill, House Bill 1104, is dead for this year.
Here's the message Allison sent:
“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.”
- Marilyn vos Savant, American columnist and author
I am encouraged by this quote after thinking about the thousands of poor children who will suffer through another year of being in schools that are not meeting their academic needs due to the N.C. Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program being held up this legislative session.
Unfortunately, the measure failed this morning in the House Finance Committee by a 11-11 vote. While the vote was even, the opportunity to overcome this stalemate and move this measure forward will not happen this legislative session.
Many thought this program would not make it very far in the legislative process. Others tried to demonize the measure as an effort to destroy our traditional public schools. Despite these obstacles, I want to say that YOUR voices were clearly heard at the General Assembly - from the more than 1,200 of you that rallied and marched at the General Assembly last month to over 7,200 supporters that contacted legislators in support of this measure over the past few weeks.
For your efforts, I would like to personally thank you for standing up for low-income children across North Carolina. You provided them with a voice during the legislative process. This idea of allowing low-income families the ability to access quality educational options is one that will not go away and must not be pushed aside any longer. We must think about the hundreds of thousands of poor students that are failing state tests every year and how their parents are unable to afford the resources they need.
These children and families are the reasons why we must not give up. We must channel our disappointment into action as we work towards making the N.C. Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program a reality for North Carolina’s children next year.
We must also remember that the disappointments of today will only prepare us for the victories of tomorrow!