What’s happening this school choice week
By Alex Granados, EdNC.org
This week is National School Choice Week. It’s held every January, and its purpose is to highlight all the options parents and students have for attending K-12 schools.
Traditionally, when people think about school choice in our state, they think about the three major options available to North Carolina students: public, private, and charter.
Traditional public schools remain the biggest option for North Carolina families. According to the state Department of Instruction’s (DPI) statistical profile, North Carolina had almost 1.5 million students enrolled in public schools for 2020, the most recent year for which data is available.
Another popular option are charter schools. This year, North Carolina has just over 200 charter schools. The 100-school cap on charters was lifted in 2011, meaning the state is just now doubling its number since that happened.
According to DPI’s statistical profile, there were just over 120,000 students enrolled in the state’s charter schools in 2020. Charter schools are not run by school districts but instead run by for-profit or nonprofit charter operators. These schools get certain flexibilities from the rules and requirements that apply to traditional public schools.
And then there are private schools. The state Department of Administration has enrollment in the state’s private schools at almost 104,000 for 2020. Along with this, the state has opportunity scholarships, disability scholarships, and education savings accounts that help students attend the private school of their choice.
Outside of these options, another big chunk of North Carolina students are homeschooled. The state Department of Administration puts the number of students enrolled in homeschools in 2020 at almost 150,000.