On September 4, 2020, Gov. Roy Cooper signed HB 1105, “Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0.” The bill allocates approximately $1 billion in federal funding from the CARES Act to various coronavirus-related expenses. $440 million of the money is designated to go to the parents of school-aged children to deal with the expenses of transitioning to online schooling. This will give each family an estimated $335. This week, JLF’s Dr. Terry Stoops published a research brief examining more of the act’s education expenses. Dr. Stoops writes:
Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to sign the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 is deeply satisfying. After years of enduring his strident opposition to the expansion of school choice in North Carolina, I am delighted to see his signature on legislation that affords additional seats for the state’s two virtual charter schools and three private school choice programs.
As for virtual charters, Dr. Stoops writes:
[T]he Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 increases seats for North Carolina’s two virtual charter schools…
The new law makes a dent in the waitlists but does not come close to eliminating them. Lawmakers authorized the NC Cyber Academy to increase its enrollment by 1,000 students, and the NC Virtual Academy can add up to 2,800 additional students for the current school year.
The expansion of school choice programs is surprising, Dr. Stoops writes:
Since being elected governor in 2016, Cooper repeatedly voiced his contempt for private school choice programs and his desire to suffocate them for the sake of “accountability…”
My colleague John Hood has written that Cooper “is among a rump group of grumpy politicians who think school choice has gotten out of hand.” Actually, Cooper is among a rump group of hypocritical politicians who think that school choice is fine for his family but not for the common folk.
I don’t fault the Coopers for their decision to send their daughter to the elite Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh, nor do I object to Mrs. Cooper delivering a commencement address at her daughter’s alma mater in 2017. As parents, our instinct is to maximize opportunities for our children to succeed and celebrate their success. And the wealth accumulated by the Coopers afforded their daughter opportunities that low- and moderate-income families cannot enjoy. For families of modest means, options are limited.