Senators Asks NCAE to Fund Low-Income Scholarships for Private “Learning Centers”

YMCA, other groups opening “learning centers” in Wake County for $24 per day

Senators: “A private contribution from the NCAE can help mitigate the damage of school closures on low-income families brought about by the NCAE’s lobbying efforts”

Raleigh, N.C. — According to a WRAL report, the YMCA and other organizations are providing “learning centers [to] offer ‘socially-distanced student workspaces’ with internet access and trained staff” to “give students a place to go for those lessons while parents work.”

The learning centers, which seem designed to provide in-person instruction in lieu of closed public schools, will cost parents $24 per day.

After Gov. Roy Cooper declined to provide parents with the option of full-time in-person instruction, the far-left N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) pressured school districts to close their schools.

Sens. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) and Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) today sent a letter to the far-left NCAE suggesting that, because the group applied much of the political pressure that led to school closures, the NCAE “dedicate a portion of its dues to fund scholarships for low-income children to attend learning centers in Wake County.”

In their letter to the far-left NCAE, Sens. Hise and Ballard reasoned, “Your organization has led the fight to keep schools closed. The success of your school closure push means children do not have equal access to education. A private contribution from the NCAE can help mitigate the damage of school closures on low-income families brought about by your lobbying efforts.”

Read the full letter here. The text is also copied below.

Dear Ms. Walker Kelly,

Congratulations on your recent selection as President of the N.C. Association of Educators. We wish you genuine success in your position.

We write today to suggest your organization dedicate a portion of its dues to fund scholarships for low-income children to attend learning centers in Wake County. As reported by WRAL, a group of Wake County organizations are providing “learning centers [to] offer ‘socially-distanced student workspaces’ with internet access and trained staff” to “give students a place to go for those lessons while parents work.”

Unfortunately, the learning centers will cost parents $24 per day, or $120 per week. That’s a burden that low-income families can’t afford, which means kids from families with means will continue to grow and learn while at-risk children fall behind.

There is broad consensus among medical and education experts that banning children from in-person instruction will have devastating consequences. For example, a group of Harvard public health professors recently wrote that preventing students from learning in the classroom “will be an educational disaster that some children may never recover from.”

Your organization has led the fight to keep schools closed. The success of your school closure push means children do not have equal access to education. A private contribution from the NCAE can help mitigate the damage of school closures on low-income families brought about by your lobbying efforts.

If you do respond to this letter, we expect it will gloss over the broad expert consensus that school closures harm at-risk kids and focus instead on false accusations that Republicans have cut education funding. As a reminder, the authorized K-12 budget has increased by $1,748 per student since Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011. It has increased by $969 per student in just the last four years.

We hope your organization will provide some relief to at-risk students who can’t afford to access the educational opportunities offered by $24-per-day learning centers.

If you opt not to offer relief to low-income families, there is a simpler and more equitable way to ensure a sound, basic education: reopen schools using the hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID relief funding already allocated by the General Assembly. We hope you will reconsider your opposition to school openings.

Thank you for your consideration.

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