Good intention. All right. Speaker Moore, senate, President of Burger, thank you for calling this press conference, and the members of the press, thank you for your presence. My name is Darrell Allison, President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, and I along with 300 students families and school unions are happy to be be with you today. What's the purpose of this press conference? Often when leaders in a press convene in this press room, it is an anticipation of a new announcement, new policy, new legislative measure. Very rarely however, do utilize this time to revisit certain policies that have become law and examine as to how effective the state program is, and whether it's talking about the implementation of a program, or the impact it is having for the intended population. today provides us the rare occasion for that to happen as we know the opportunity scholarship program has been highly debated within that two chambers of the General Assembly, and fiercely litigated. Today as we meet here the North Carolina Supreme Court over there is deliberating on deciding the constitutionality of the program. However today these families have had the opportunity to meet with house and senate members either republican party as well house and senate members in the democratic party. Now the purpose of this meetings were not be to lobby members as much as they have to give parents and parents the families that utilizing the opportunity scholarship program the rare opportunity to share directly face to face with members their stories, how the parents in this program how they are doing personally today? We will be hearing from three parents and a student from three regions of the state as well as from a mental school student. Who's currently attending a private school public schools with the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The stories that you will hear in this press room represents just a small fraction of the hundreds of parents and families who drove from across the state today. You are standing outside the press room more with those hundreds of families represents just a small fraction of the low income parents across the state could desire this option. Make no mistake, the application numbers for this program are just as real as the people who are congregated here today. Last year in less than one month more than 5500 applications flooded into the North Carolina Education Assistant Authority in hopes of a scholarship, where today we have a little bit more of 1200 of those students utilizing the program largely due to the legal challenge. This year as of February 1st, we have had nearly 5000 new application for this program coming in. For those who are currently on the program 95% of them have reapplied for this program, now you think about it even with the legal challenge in place ladies and gentlemen in the first two years of this program program, we have had more that 10000 application flood in from low income families, representing 97 of the 100 counties in our state. Now these numbers are real, but the parents and families are here in living color, so at this time you'll be hearing from three parents, Schumika[sp?], Michael and Elisa, and then we will conclude with a student named Jess. [xx]. Thank you so much Mr. Dale for just sharing the sentiment as a parent, I want to thank our amazing speaker Mr. Moore well as still the president, pressing for allowing us the opportunity. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have the opportunity scholarship available for my children, and I'm a mother of two young boys that are looking for the word of God at Christian Academy, here in Rally North Carolina, and I'm really excited to say that I want my sons to have a private education experience to maximize the opportunity for them to flourish and grow as individual students. Before this current year being a word of God, they were in public school, and we had a lot of challenges, even to the point in which my oldest son was actually bullied not by the student but by a teacher whose teaching methods were very interesting to try to help him learn, she would embarrass him in front of the class as well as call his name out as being very slow and working very slow. For me as a parent that was the most disheartening thing to hear my son tell me that he wasn't comfortable going to school with the situation, with
his teacher so the opportunity of scholarship has afforded me an opportunity to have a state private education with smaller classrooms that only have my children to flourish and grow with their grades excelling into As and B from an average grade in second and fourth grade to now not only them. My son has the confidence not only from he speak from the negative energy from the teacher because he's being more open and vocal in the classroom, he's being more expressive even the teachers are sharing about how well he is doing and not only that, he's got the confidence to be able to express himself his grades are all A's now, his second, fourth and fifth grade level classes and not only that he went for student government at Elementary School, which was the first high school I ever had. So thank you all so much for everything you all are doing with the Opportunity Scholarship. I am a living proof, I've been in this initiative since 2012 and I'm very proud to be up here not only as an advocate but also as a parent, a community representative but also as someone who is a recipient of the scholarship and has seen a success rate that has come to my family so thank you Good afternoon everybody. I'm a little bit nervous right now. One day I must say am nervous about is the opportunity scholarship. I helped a son go to High Point Christian, lately he's doing a wonderful job. I have seen him grow academically I was shocked at the dead after American dead and there is hope he can have a future he can tip the opportunity to chose the school that he want to go to and this school right now he is going to he is in public school right now he has backed high point Christine have asking the growth. I have seen myself with a prior death apologizing to my wife there is a way and the only way to do this guys is to offer these scholarships we need this, we don't need it we want this, my boys are going to have these. I want to go to day and night so you know what we have a secure future. You have a chance to be someone, the same seat that you hold one day bigger hold those seats but without you there won't be them. Is time for us to take back over the car and get back into the drivers seat.education is the journey, and right now I need someone to dictate, and control the journey they are going to. They don't know where they are going, with us they do, you look around and learn these kids, these are our future guys. One day when we're older, they are going to give us the best. Let's give them a chance, lets give them an opportunity they do the right things. I open my heart today to you guys to give them away Please make the right decision. I was dead. I saw maybe the worries, I got to do what's best for my kids I got to make sure I show the back to my sons to make sure they have the chance, they have a great opportunity. None of the kids [xx] back in the day so am just happy to see and be the dad we are going to make her wait. Please. Thank you. Just new. Speak more senate President Burger. I want to express my sincere gratitude for your support and dedication to ensure children like mine have more access to quality education. I'm going to read from my script, because if I don't I will get very emotional, and I'm going to try not to do that. My name is Lisas mothers and I'm a mother of four I'm way from North Carolina. My four children are currently attending a private school thanks to the opportunity scholarship in the previous school my children were not being challenged enough academically and they were all very smart and performed level or better, but the pace in the classroom, and the challenge of the curriculum, was just not enough to keep their attention. Over time I saw them losing interest in school and two of my children were dealing with social issues like bomb threats and bullying, in their school they can get even more difficult if they focus in school. Then my husband and I about the opportunity scholarship programme and knew that it could be one part of the solution for our family a chance for us as we have dealt with family illnesses that have caused me to loose my job without this we would not have been able to financially afford private school for poor children being at there new school sorry where the teachers can help support them when they need it and provide a challenging curriculum I see this far again and it has provided stability and support both socially and academically. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing this smiles on my children's faces again. Speaker Moore and Senate
President Burger thank you for helping to get the smiles back on my children faces. Good afternoon. My name is Tass Maclein and I'm a seventh grader from Victory Christian Center. Thank you Speaker Moore and Senate President Burger for starting this scholarship program, and I am really grateful for that. OK I went to this year, the Victory Christian Center School at K5, K3, through second grade and I had to drop out because to some financial financial problems in my home I went to [xx] middle, excuse me I went to a public school and I was born for standing up for standing up against bullying. and, I feel left out in at the end [xx] in need for what is right and that wasn't right. This year I can say I've greatly moved my grades and my confident level has risen a lot. Here at my private school I'm now in. I'm learning more because public school it was a large number of classes. A large number of students in each class. And here there's small classes so students, the teachers can take me step by step if I forget something. At public school I couldn't do what I can do now and I'm just really, really grateful for the opportunity scholarship program, and I'm quite pleased don't close it or shut it down because without it I couldn't be able to go to the school I mean now and I don't feel like by going through what I've been through again so thank you. As you can see we are honored to have these students here today. I spoke to them earlier and what we want in North Carolina are the best schools, the best public schools and the options for those who choose to go a different route a parent of two sons in the public schools. I think of no higher calling than any parent has and to make sure that your children have a quality education and it's good to see that that the scholarship program has worked, I mentioned upstairs the fact that on our side and in our side they're in the house the skip stamp has been leading this fight for maybe as long I have been alive skip I don't know I'm not sure but he has been working tirelessly on this and I know this is a proud day Skip for you to see this folks and to see the faces of this children, but we are honored to have these visitors here today and I think it's a proved passive that the legislation we've adopted is moving in the right direction, and it's good to be with you all today, and I think I'm scoot on that profession starting Thank you. I would like to thank Skiff as well because Skiff you've been a champion of this program for a long time and you know as a parent I think all the parents understand this, they're most important thing to use. How were your kids doing in the opportunities which kids have? And this program has provided children across the state, and you see a number of them here with an opportunity they would not have had, but for this program. And I think it's just a testament to the strength of parents, and the desire our parents regardless where they come from to move forward for the kids and do what's best for the kids. I'm glad that this program is working and I hope that it will continue to have it work. Thank you. Thank you for being here. We'll take a few questions. Session has already started but we can take a few questions before we leave. I just saw Representative [xx] and
Brian Brown who'd been reacted to this represented Rob Brian, and [xx]. We have a few questions Are you hoping to expand funding in this coming budget year? Yes. Hope for Opportunity Scholarships will not change the program at all but add additional slots from the current level. You have a target, I guess? Yes, the target will be as many as apply which currently is about 5, 000. We hope to get up to 8 or 9, 000, and you can multiply by $4200 or about $4000. I would say no matter what it costs, it actually saves money for the obvious reason that it's less money than is spent by the same student if they're in the public school so the cost is offset. Yes [xx]. Would you keep the income guidelines? The income guidelines will not change the legislation, but they're already in the existing legislation. It goes up for the next school year to 133% of this pre-introduced price launch so there would be no additional legislation required for that. Thank you very much Pleased to have our family mambers here Thank you Representative Frotim, thank you press for being here and it was a beautiful day and we thank you for your time.