In the News

As the source for parental school choice in our state, PEFNC is often asked to provide commentary on educational choice.

North Carolina Superintendent Race: A Crucial Pivot for Public Education's Future

By Salman Khan

March 4, 2024

As North Carolina prepares for a pivotal election, the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction emerges as a central battlefield for the future of public education. Five candidates, two Republicans and three Democrats, have thrown their hats into the ring, each bringing distinct visions for steering the state's education system amidst growing debates over parents' rights, school choice, and teacher welfare.

More than 70,000 NC families want a new private school voucher. Who will get one?

March 5, 2024

A record-breaking total of nearly 72,000 families applied this year for state funding to help them pay for the cost for attending a North Carolina private school, making it unlikely all of them will get the money they want.

State lawmakers overhauled the Opportunity Scholarship program to allow any family to apply this year for a private school voucher. The result is a more than 500% increase in applications this year over the 11,617 applications that were received in February 2023.

Demand remained high from the start of the application period on Feb. 1 to its end on Friday evening. The N.C. State Education Assistance Authority said the number of applications exceeds the $293.5 million in state funding currently available for vouchers.

“We anticipated an incredible surge in applications for the Opportunity Scholarship Program based on what we heard from parents, families, and school communities since the eligibility expansion was passed by the state legislature last year,” Mike Long, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, said in an email Tuesday.

State Treasurer comments on school vouchers

By Holly Jackson

March 1, 2024

State of North Carolina Treasurer and Republican candidate for governor, Dale Folwell says time will tell on how the statewide Opportunity Scholarship Program will affect funding for public schools. 

“In your life, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and I think that applies to this issue,” Folwell said. He is waiting to see data that shows just how school vouchers will impact public school systems statewide. While supporters praise the newly expanded Opportunity Scholarship, critics say it could have devastating effects on public school systems, especially rural ones like Beaufort County. 

“Anything that is getting a taxpayer dollar needs to be held to the same level of transparency, and same level of accountability,” Folwell said. 

What's at stake for education in the NC superintendent of public instruction race?

By Amy Diaz

February 29, 2024

Two Republicans and three Democrats are running for North Carolina superintendent — a role overseeing the state’s public education system. 

According to Dani Parker Moore, the director of the Schools, Education and Society minor at Wake Forest University, it’s a race to watch. 

“We're in a perfect storm of thinking about public education," she says. "A new governor, new superintendent, parents' rights advocates bills, the expansion of vouchers to go to private schools, and our current governor has sounded the alarm that public education is under fire."

So what exactly is the state superintendent’s role? 

Thousands of families seek school vouchers in North Carolina as program expands

By Samuel King

February 22, 2024

The deadline is approaching for families to apply for the newly-expanded Opportunity Scholarship program in North Carolina.

It provides thousands of dollars to students to attend private schools in the state. Supporters tout the expansion as a victory for parent choice when it comes to education. Opponents believe it has the potential to harm public schools.

The program was initially intended for low-income families, but last year, the North Carolina General Assembly made all school-age students eligible for scholarships or vouchers beginning in the fall of 2024.

So far at least 51,000 families have applied ahead of a March 1 deadline, which is far more than the 32,341 students already in the program.

The money is available on a sliding scale based on income from $7,468 for families with lower incomes to $3,360 for families with higher incomes. That money is then directly paid to the schools.

Demand for Opportunity Scholarships sets record in first week

By David Bass

February 6, 2024

More than 32,000 new applications for the Opportunity Scholarship Program came in during the first week of priority enrollment, setting a new record in demand for the program and tripling the number of applications submitted in February 2023.

The numbers were first reported by the school-choice advocacy organization Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC), and they are based on data from the North Carolina Education Assistance Authority, the state agency that administers the program.

“I am thrilled and yet not at all surprised by the overwhelming enthusiasm from new applicant families and students,” said PEFNC president Mike Long in a statement. “Demand for the Opportunity Scholarship Program continues to rise, and the expansion of the scholarship now means more families across our state will be empowered by parental school choice.”

With new rules, record number of NC families applying for private school vouchers

By Keung Hui

February 5, 2024

North Carolina families are applying at a record-setting pace for state funding to help them pay for the cost of attending a K-12 private school.

The application period opened Thursday under new rules that allow any North Carolina family to apply for a private school voucher. As of Monday afternoon, there have been 31,603 complete Opportunity Scholarship applications, according to Kathy Hastings, a spokesperson for the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.

The applications received during the first five days this year is well above the 11,617 completed applications that the NCSEAA received in all of February 2023. It’s also nearly as many as the 32,341 students who are receiving an Opportunity Scholarship this school year.

NC school voucher application opens; How to apply

By Joseph Holloway

February 1, 2024

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Families can now start applying for the state’s newly-expanded school voucher program.

The Opportunity Scholarship was expanded through the state budget so now, every family will become eligible for funding to send their children to private schools. The State Education Assistance Authority will review applications they receive and get the funds to the school that parents choose.

School choice advocates say it gives families more options.

“Now it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, black, white, male, female, opportunity scholarship and education is for all,” said Mike Long, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in NC.


Celebrating National School Choice Week!

Last week we held our National School Choice Week event at the Halifax Mall, right in the heart of the North Carolina General Assembly. There was plenty to celebrate with the expansion of school choice in North Carolina through the Opportunity Scholarship program and other advancements in parental school choice that happened right there in Raleigh just a few months ago.

Student enrollment in county private, homeschools outpaces public schools

By Cheryl Burke

January 29, 2024

MOREHEAD CITY — Student enrollment in county private and homeschools outpaced an increase in traditional public and charter schools in 2022-23, according to state reports.

Overall, there were 10,060 students enrolled in county schools in 2022-23, up from 9,608 in 2021-22, a nearly 5% increase.

Statistics from the NC Department of Non-Public Education show that the number of county students enrolled in private schools increased from 507 in 2021-22 to 605 in 2022-23, a 19% increase.

County students registered in homeschools increased from 1,157 in 2021-22 to 1,347 in 2022-23, a 16% jump.