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Gov. Roy Cooper, at an October 2020 COVID-19 briefing. (Pool photo)

Support for school choice continues to grow; thank Gov. Cooper

Who would have guessed it?  Governor Roy Cooper’s handling – or mishandling – of Coronavirus pandemic and school re-openings has generated record interest in school choice and expanding educational opportunity in North Carolina.

The evidence keeps mounting.

In January, a John Locke Civitas School Choice Poll found a plurality of respondents disapproved (46%/39%) of Gov. Cooper’s handling of the school re-openings.  The same poll also found strong support for the idea of school choice (82%) and for state programs to expand education opportunity, like the Opportunity Scholarship Program (66%), charter schools (59%) and Education Savings Accounts (72%).

This week Carolina Partnership for Reform released partial results of a recent poll which gives more good news for advocates of school choice. Results include:

  • 57 percent of North Carolinians would choose to educate their children or grandchildren outside of a traditional public-school setting.
  • 67 percent of respondents expressed support for the Opportunity Scholarship Program – up 25 percent from a May 2028 CPRE Poll.
  • 61 percent of respondents support increasing the amount of the Opportunity Scholarship from $4,200 to $6,500.
  • 54 percent of respondents support expanding eligibility for the Opportunity Scholarship to all families making less than $100,000 per year.
  • Only 36 percent of respondents said teachers backed a $2,500 bonus proposed by Governor Cooper.
  • 49 percent of respondents said families with school-age children deserve a $250 extra credit grant similar to what the legislature provided last fall.

Cooper’s authoritarian policies have forced closures of public schools, relegated thousands of students to virtual learning and weakened support for public schools.  Cooper’s recent veto of legislation  (SB 37) to require local school districts to offer in-person instruction has only fueled parent frustration.  The ongoing dissatisfaction with how Cooper has handled school re0penings has made parents realize; there is a better way. Despite the hysterics of the NCAE, parents see private schools have remained open.  They see that it’s possible for teachers and students to go to school during a pandemic. For anyone who takes the time to look, the contrast between  public and private schools is stunning.  It’s something Cooper and the media have largely ignored, but parents have not.

Try as he might to thwart choice, Governor Cooper continues to unwittingly author one of the strongest cases for why North Carolina needs more school choice.

He is a gift that just keeps on giving.

 

 

 

Bob Luebke / Senior Fellow, Center for Effective Education | John Locke Foundation