On Wednesday, the North Carolina House passed a bill to fund students through a method lawmakers have deemed “backpack funding” rather than funding government schools directly.
House Bill 823 (H.B. 823) would expand the opportunity scholarship program to all K-12 students in North Carolina with grant amounts based on household income.
The House passed H.B. 823 by a 65-45 vote margin, with only one Democrat voting in favor.
The following table shows the scholarship amount allowed per K-12 child by household income.
“This is a wildly popular program, and it is about putting children first,” said Rep. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg, the primary sponsor of H.B. 823. “All children are different. You all know that if you’re a parent, a grandparent. If I’m picking education for my children to go to a different school, how could I stand here and deny the single mom in Greensboro that she can’t have that chance? Just because I have the ability to afford it, that she can’t? That’s wrong, and it’s hypocritical.”
House Democrats opposed the bill by a 45-1 margin, while all House Republicans voted in favor.
One House Democrat, Rep. Julie von Haefen, a white woman from Wake County, said school choice was a legacy of white supremacy.
After von Haefen accused the school choice idea of having white supremacist roots, her Democratic colleague, Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, voted in favor of the bill anyway.