JLF Memo
Feb. 5th, 2014: - johnlocke.org Manage Subscriptions

School choice is thriving in North Carolina
By Dr. Terry Stoops

View in your browser.

Welcome

In this week's CommenTerry, I examine school choice from a few different angles, mostly right angles, but angles nonetheless.

Bulletin Board

  • Learn. The John Locke Foundation and Carolina Journal provide unsurpassed research, analysis, reporting, and opinion on North Carolina's most important and talked about issues.  Sign up for a Key Account to receive daily updates from our staff.

  • Attend. A list of upcoming events sponsored by the John Locke Foundation can be found at the bottom of this newsletter, as well as here.  We look forward to seeing you!

  • Share. The North Carolina History Project seeks contributors to the North Carolina History Project Encyclopedia. Please contact Dr. Troy Kickler for additional information.

  • Discuss. I would like to invite all readers to submit brief announcements, personal insights, anecdotes, concerns, and observations about the state of education in North Carolina.  I may publish selected submissions in future editions of the newsletter. Requests for anonymity will be honored. For additional information or to send a submission, email Terry at tstoops@johnlocke.org.

  • Revisit. We have archived all research newsletters on our website.  Access the archive here.

  • Donate. If you find this newsletter mildly informative or entertaining, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the John Locke Foundation.  The John Locke Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that does not accept nor seek government funding. It relies solely on generous support from individuals, corporations, small businesses, and foundations.

CommenTerry

1. Applications for North Carolina's voucher program for low-income families are "pouring in," according to WRAL.  Laura Leslie reports,

Three days after North Carolina began taking applications for the state's new school voucher program, hundreds of families have entered the lottery, hoping to get the state to pick up part of the cost of private school tuition.  As of noon Tuesday, 1,400 families had applied online, meaning 2,100 children were already vying for the 2,400 or so vouchers that will be issued for the 2014-15 school year.

There are several reasons for such strong demand.  First, families like school choice.  Second, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) has done an amazing job of disseminating information about the voucher program and assisting potential applicants.  The State Education Assistance Authority is accepting applications through February 25.

This level of interest in the program is reason enough to expand it in subsequent years.  Get to it, legislators.

2. I received a note from a friend of mine who entered his child into the admissions lottery for Endeavor Charter School in Wake County.  To his disappointment, his son received lottery number 1,172 for one of a handful of available first-grade seats.  I'm no statistician, but my gut tells me that the North Carolina Education Lottery probably has better odds than that.

Charter schools must fill vacant seats using a lottery, which is one reason why they cannot engineer their student populations using the socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic characteristics of applicants.  Endeavor must accept the students that chance provides.

State law limits the number of students a charter school may admit for each school year.  Additionally, charter schools with a strong record of success, such as Endeavor, cannot establish satellite campuses.  So popular charter schools accept a fraction of the students who apply.  As I mentioned above, families like school choice.

3. Unlike most families, Matt Buys, a member of the Asheville City Board of Education, does not like school choice.  In an op-ed published in the News & Observer, Mr. Buys tells the heartbreaking story of a student named David, who overcame unimaginable trauma and became a successful public school student.

The heroic work of Asheville City Schools teachers and administrators is admirable, and David appeared to be well served by the district.  Unfortunately, there may be other children who, unlike David, do not thrive in public schools.  What about them? In other words, David's story is not a sufficient reason to oppose school choice.

Mr. Buys contends that vouchers and charter schools "siphon money away from kids like David."  (By the way, choice also "siphons" kids away from the Asheville City Schools.)  But from the description of David's story, it appears that caring adults, not money, were his saving grace. 

Speaking of money, did I mention that, at $11,243, the Asheville City Schools had the ninth highest per student expenditure in the state last year?  When a child leaves the district and takes a $4,200 voucher to a private school or chooses to attend a charter school, say the $7,967 per student ArtSpace Charter in Swannanoa, I think the district fares just fine.  One might say that the Asheville City Schools siphon money away from the private and charter schools in the area, not the other way around. Kidding.

Facts and Stats

Last week was National School Choice Week for 2014.  There were over 5,500 events held across the nation to celebrate school choice, including a major event in Charlotte that featured North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

Education Acronym of the Week

NCSEAA -- North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority

Quote of the Week

"N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory said at a school choice rally in Charlotte last week that 'we all must contribute to helping with this cause (school choice).' The governor's comprehensive education plan for the next few years is scheduled to be released soon.

'I want to let you know that in the coming weeks, my education team will be announcing a strategic plan with focus three focus areas in education: results, rewards and respect,' McCrory said."

- Preston Spencer, "Education options growing for students," Statesville Record & Landmark, Thursday, January 30, 2014

Click here for the Education Update archive.

You can unsubscribe to this and all future e-mails from the John Locke Foundation by clicking the "Manage Subscriptions" button at the top of this newsletter.

 

Upcoming Events

Monday, Feb. 10th, 2014 at 12:00 p.m.
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Clark Neily
Judicial Abdication vs. Judicial Engagement
Is the Supreme Court shirking its obligation to uphold the Constitution?

Thursday, Feb. 20th, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
John W. Pope Lecture Series
with our special guest Robert P. George
"Constitutional Structures and Political Culture"

Friday, Feb. 21st, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.
24th Anniversary Celebration
with our special guest Chris Wallace
JLF's 24th Anniversary Celebration

©2014 John Locke Foundation | 200 West Morgan St., Raleigh, NC 27601, (919) 828-3876