School choice and competition
In North Carolina, public education is a core function
of state and local government. The state constitution,
in the words of the N.C. Supreme Court, recognizes the
right to a "sound, basic education" for every child in the
state. But public education need not and should not be
delivered by government monopolies, as a diverse array
of magnet, charter, and private schools are demonstrating
across the country and here in North Carolina. In the end,
no system for delivering goods and services functions well
without providing a means for consumers to make their
desires known and express their level of satisfaction.
- Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, there has been a 104
percent increase in home schools and a 128 percent
increase in the number of home school students. For
the 2008-09 school year, 77,065 students were enrolled
in 41,042 home schools.
- Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, there has been a 4
percent increase in private schools and a 10 percent
increase in private school students. For the 2008-09
school year, 98,545 students were enrolled in 683
- In 2008-09, there were 35,131 students enrolled in
North Carolina charter schools, public schools of
choice that are funded by taxpayer dollars and subject
to many of the same accountability and regulatory
requirements as district schools.
- In 2008-09, the average county market share of North
Carolina's public and private schools of choice — charter,
home, and private schools — was 11 percent. Martin
County had the lowest percentage market share (3
percent), while Northampton County had the highest
(28 percent). For the 2008-09 school year, 210,741
students were enrolled in charter, home, and private
- On the 2008-09 North Carolina end-of-grade and
end-of-course tests, the average charter school performance
composite (percentage of "proficient" students
across grades and tested subjects) was 73.0 percent,
compared with 69.8 percent for district schools.
Since the 1996-97 school year, the State Board of Education
has approved 143 charters, closed 33 charter
schools, and allowed 10 charter schools to relinquish
their charter without opening.
- Neither the state constitution nor the federal constitution
would prohibit a comprehensive school choice
program in North Carolina.
Analyst: Terry Stoops
- Give parents an "Education Bill of Rights." An
Education Bill of Rights should attach funding to the
students and give parents the right to use that funding
to send their children to any public, charter, or private
school in the state.
- Have North Carolina school districts make greater
use of open enrollment and magnet schools. District
leaders should employ choice and competition
as tools to improve academic performance and allow
diverse learning communities to form.
- Lift the legislatively imposed statewide cap of 100
charter schools. The state of North Carolina should
allow the number of charters to grow as long as parents,
educators, and oversight agencies ensure accountability
- Allow North Carolina families to set up educational
savings accounts. Families should be able to make
an annual tax-deductible deposit of $5,000 per child,
from which they can withdraw funds tax-free for educational
expenses such as textbooks, educational materials,
or tuition incurred at any time from preschool
through college. Needy students in public schools
where fewer than 60 percent test at grade level should
get $4,500 scholarships to attend private schools, provided
that no additional regulatory burdens are placed
on private schools that accept those students.
- Let low- and middle-income parents receive or
access education tax credits. Family education tax
credits would reduce the state income tax liability of
families that incur out-of-pocket expenses for private
school tuition and educational services and expenses.
A philanthropy education tax credit would reduce the
state income tax liability of individuals and business
that donate to scholarship funding organizations.
Research has shown that both types of tax credits are
educationally and fiscally sound.
Director of Education Studies
919-828-3876 • email@example.com