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State program paying for students to attend private schools

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Thousands of students across North Carolina will be able to attend private schools this fall thanks to a new state voucher program that officially launched Wednesday.

The program is called the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which gives low-income families the opportunity to attend the private school of their choice.

One of the most requested schools in the state is the Tri-City Christian Academy in High Point, according to the State Education Assistance Authority.

“I think it opens up a lot of opportunities, a lot of doors, for parents that wouldn’t have that otherwise,” said Pastor Don Davis, a member of the TCA school board.

2,300 students in the state were selected for the program through a random lottery Wednesday. The state will award each eligible student up to $4,200 a year for tuition. A representative from the State Education Assistance Authority told FOX8 that 1,893 students were wait-listed for the program this year.

“I think parents certainly have to be excited to have the opportunity to look at other options for their children instead of the school that’s closest to where their live,” said Davis.

However, many people are against the program.

“This puts taxpayers in the position of funding private education for the few and I think that’s a misuse of tax dollars. … That’s not what taxpayers want,” said former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Ward, in a statement posted on the NC Association of Educators web site.

Another concern is that many of the private schools participating are religious, so the scholarships violate the separation of church and state. The NC Association of Educators along with the North Carolina School Boards Association even filed law suits to block the program.

However, those who support the program argue that it is voluntary and it is something thousands of kids will benefit from.

“I think some people are looking for more than just the ABCs of education. They’re also looking for faith and value transmission, and that’s equally important to many parents as the basic subjects that students are learning today,” said Davis.

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