Sunday, July 28, 2013
RALEIGH, NC—School vouchers are coming to North Carolina, making it the 13th state to enact the school choice measure. The voucher provision enabling low-income children to access private schools was included in the state budget, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law Friday.
In the 2014-15 school year, North Carolina students who qualify for the federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program—43 percent statewide—will be eligible for “Opportunity Scholarships” worth up to $4,200. However, with total funding set at $10 million, maximum scholarships would be available to just more than 2,300 students.
“Although a small program, this is an important move toward big change in North Carolina’s education system,” said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, a group founded by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who first introduced the voucher idea. “Other states’ experiences show school choice starts small but grows over time to include more families.”
The school voucher provision was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, which Enlow said is a consistent theme nationwide. “Every year we are seeing bipartisan groups of lawmakers support school choice, from Tennessee to Ohio to Oklahoma. Those legislators recognize that parents should have access to their kids’ funding to choose the schools that work best for them.”
Private schools wishing to participate in the program must provide annual updates to parents on their scholarship students’ performance and report their standardized test scores and graduation rates to the state. Schools also must administer a nationally norm-referenced test to voucher students. The law does not stipulate whether private schools must admit students randomly or accept vouchers as payment in full.
“As the program’s regulations are developed, it’s important private schools maintain their freedom to do what’s made them successful,” Enlow said. “We shouldn’t burden teachers in any school, public or private, with red tape.”
Gov. McCrory is expected to approve another voucher program for students with special needs, replacing a tax credit offered to parents of children with disabilities who choose private options. That change will allow families without taxable income to participate. North Carolina also is one of 13 states that makes students with special needs eligible for school choice.
Nationwide, 23 states encourage private school choice through vouchers, tax credits, or education savings accounts.
For a detailed look at North Carolina’s current tax credit for students with special needs visit edchoice.org/ABCs
. For an update on when Gov. McCrory approves the state's second voucher program, follow the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice at
About the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. The Foundation promotes school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America.
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice