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In this week's CommenTerry, I
examine school choice from a few different angles, mostly right angles, but
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for North Carolina's voucher program for low-income families are "pouring
in," according to WRAL. Laura Leslie
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
of the Week
NCSEAA -- North Carolina State
Education Assistance Authority
Quote of the Week
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
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
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