RALEIGH — To what extent do North Carolina parents enjoy a choice of schools for their children — and how often do they use it? This question addresses one of the most important issues in education reform. And its answer can be found in a new study from the North Carolina Education Alliance that ranks the state’s districts according to the proportion of parents who are able and willing to select magnet schools, charter schools, private schools, and other options. “Choice in North Carolina Education: 2003” will be released in early September as part of a statewide tour taking NCEA director Lindalyn Kakadelis, former Arizona state school superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan, and other speakers to 15 cities across North Carolina.
“While parental choice among public and private schools has been a much-debated issue in North Carolina education for decades, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to how school options differ across the state,” said Kakadelis, a former teacher and school-board member in Charlotte. “We know that several urban systems have adopted choice-based systems for student assignment in recent years, that homeschooling is on the rise, and that charter schools are starting to sprout up across North Carolina. But until now, there’s been no comprehensive look at the diversity of these offerings and how many parents are taking advantage of them.”
At each tour event, the rankings and student data for local systems will be released and discussed. Speakers will also provide an overview of school-reform issues such as student testing and the implications of the federal No Child Left Behind act.
The North Carolina Education Alliance, a special project of the John Locke Foundation, provides research and marketing assistance to an emerging school-reform movement, bringing together public officials, educators, parents, business executives, and civic leaders. “We believe strongly that true education reform in North Carolina must embrace high standards, a strong system of accountability, the innovative use of new research and technology, a sound curriculum, the cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars, and more parental choice and control in education,” Kakadelis said. “Above all, successful reform depends on the belief that all children can learn.”
Confirmed events in the statewide tour of North Carolina include:
• September 2, 2003
12 pm — Lindalyn Kakadelis will speak in Asheville at the Renaissance Hotel. Sponsored by the N.C. Education Alliance, the John Locke Foundation, and North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy.
7 pm — Kakadelis will speak in Bakersville at the new courthouse. Sponsors: NCEA, JLF, & CSE.
• September 4, 2003
7 pm — Kakadelis will speak in North Wilkesboro at the Main St. police station. Sponsors: NCEA/JLF/CSE.
• September 8, 2003
12 pm — Lisa Graham Keegan will speak in Raleigh at the McKimmon Center. Sponsors: NCEA & JLF.
6:30 pm — Keegan will speak in Charlotte at the uptown City Club. Sponsors: NCEA & JLF.
7 pm — Donna Martinez will speak in Hillsborough at the county courthouse. Sponsors: NCEA/JLF/CSE.
• September 15, 2003
12 pm — Martinez will speak in Winston-Salem at the Golden Corral Restaurant on University Dr. JLF/CSE.
12 pm — Kakadelis will speak in New Bern at the Sheraton Grand. Sponsors: NCEA & JLF.
7 pm — Kakadelis will speak in Washington at the Beaufort GOP Women’s Club.
• September 16, 2003
12 pm — Kakadelis will speak in Greenville at the Hilton Hotel. Sponsors: NCEA & JLF.
6:30 pm — Kakadelis will speak in Fayetteville at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux. Sponsors: NCEA & JLF.
• September 17, 2003
12 pm — Kakadelis will speak in Mocksville at the Prime Sirloin Restaurant, I-40 at 601. NCEA/JLF/CSE.
7 pm — Kakadelis will speak at Greensboro Charter Academy, 4049 US Hwy 220 N. NCEA/JLF/CSE.
• September 23, 2003
6:30 pm — Kakadelis will speak in Roanoke Rapids at the Weldon Rd. Shoney’s. NCEA/JLF/CSE
• September 24, 2003
12 pm — Kakadelis will speak in Rocky Mount at the Gateway Convention Center. NCEA & JLF.
Please call Summer Hood or Kory Swanson at 919-828-3876 for more information about these events.