At Jay Greene’s Blog, Matthew Ladner’s “The Way of the Future: Self-Reliance (with equity?)” gives North Carolina a well-deserved mention. Matt, who is a senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, writes about the emergence of new educational structures, including a “broad trend towards self-reliance and multiple service providers rather than one stop shopping in K-12” in states like North Carolina.
Increasing numbers of families seem to be taking the a la carte approach, and like the Silicon Valley feature, they are doing it with their own money.
North Carolina for instance is an interesting place to keep an eye on. North Carolina has adopted both large charter and private choice programs, but thus far they can’t keep up. North Carolina keeps statistics on homeschooling, and it is interesting that other choice options can’t keep up with it. In 2007 there were 71,566 home-schooling students. In 2017-18, the figure was 135,749. This increase came despite the state taking a cap off of charter schools in 2010, and a doubling of charter enrollment. North Carolina lawmakers also created a statewide voucher program and (very recently) an ESA program for special needs students in the intervening years, but homeschooling is more prevalent than either charter or private school attendance in the state. Charters and private choice programs are growing, but they alone are not scratching the itch. District enrollment meanwhile has been flat for years despite rapid population growth.
States like North Carolina, with a statewide voucher program for low-income students and two different private choice programs to help students with disabilities, are ahead of the curve on the equity front. Florida likewise has a tax-credit program for low-income children and two programs for children with disabilities. States with these policy mixes create the possibility of economically integrated private schools options. States without them, not so much.
Let’s see what happens next.
Much of what happens next will be determined by the elections in November. Nothing will undermine North Carolina’s progress faster than the election of anti-choice lawmakers.