Legislation and Real Education Reform

By Mike Long

We are in an important time-and-place for parental school choice, not just here in North Carolina, but across our country. We have long said we believe that families should have access to the school of their choice regardless of their zip code or income. To begin achieving this, we had to create pathways to parental school choice for families who could not afford it, like our Opportunity Scholarship Program in the first 10-years of its existence.

We are now faced with growing sentiment (and I think rightfully so) that we should let the dollars follow the child. If we are going to advocate for that, which I believe we should, then that does mean (at least to me) every child. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, massive education reform shifting the idea of “how much will these programs cost” to “how much does each child have to follow them?”

I want to encourage you to read more about the NC Senate’s approach in S406. What I appreciate about this legislation is that the families in the most need will continue to receive the most support, and then it adjusts from there.

This bill helps create real education reform in our state that ensures every family has a say when it comes to the education dollars that our state is investing in their children, while ensuring families in the most need do not slip through the cracks.

It is humbling to think about where our movement was, not more than 10-years ago. At that point (2013), we were on the verge of creating North Carolina’s second private school choice program, the Opportunity Scholarship. Since then, we have seen parental school choice options soar, and now nearly 25% of all kids in North Carolina attend a private school, public charter school, or home school.

With that, we must continue to expand these options and find more ways to fund students and not educational systems, or as we say in the parental school choice movement, allow the educational dollars to follow the child.

There are a few really good examples of this happening in our state today through legislation like House Bill 219 (a charter school funding bill) and House Bill 420 and Senate Bill 406 (both would expand private school choice).

All of these bills are examples of real education reform that benefits all families in our state!