OK, Arizona! We see you.

By Mike Long

Arizona Governor signs expansive school choice bill, PEFNC’s Mike Long is there to celebrate the success and look ahead for North Carolina

This week Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an expansive piece of school choice legislation. It is now possible for all 1.1 million K-12 students in Arizona to get a scholarship and attend the school that best meets their needs. To read more about the historic legislation, click here.

I strongly believe in what they were able to accomplish. With Arizona being such a trailblazer in the school choice movement, I had to see it myself because this represents another powerful paradigm shift, moving power away from the education elites and back into the rightful hands of parents.

Here’s more good news, we are seeing signs of it happening here in North Carolina.

After being with Governor Ducey (a Republican who took office in 2015), and those who made this achievement possible, one thing was crystal clear: they believe in funding students, not systems.

We agree!

Back home here in North Carolina, our state has made incredible strides over the last ten years for school choice. We busted the cap on public charter schools and created a scholarship program for students with special needs in 2011. Next up, the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) was established in 2013 to help kids from lower income families afford private school. That program faced a legal challenge, but was upheld as constitutional in 2015, and today serves over 20,000 children across our state. We followed that up by enacting the Education Savings Account (known today as ESA+) in 2017, and then OSP and ESA+ expansion this year!

I am grateful that leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly, under Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), has prioritized school choice growth in North Carolina, despite efforts from Governor Roy Cooper to eliminate programs like the Opportunity Scholarship Program.

With the successful track record and high demand for these educational programs, North Carolina is positioned to follow the path that our friends in Arizona just paved. It proves that school choice for all is possible and is always worth fighting for.

For the first time in the history of our state, more than 25% of K-12 students are educated in a private school, public charter school, or home school. We should continue to strengthen education in North Carolina by promoting more choice in education. 

I know we can do it!

After signing the bill on Tuesday, the Governor's top assistant gave me one of the pens used to ink the history expansion in Arizona. 

He simply told me, "Go get it done in North Carolina."