Recently released figures reveal that approximately 1 in 5 students in North Carolina do not attend traditional public schools. Figures from public charter, private and home schools show those types of schools continue to see enrollment gains.
A quick collection of figures from various programs yields the following table.
While the figure captures current enrollment, it doesn’t show the nearly a decade-long expansion in school choice options. That said, it’s fair to ask; where does North Carolina rank relative to other states? That’s a complicated question to answer because of the availability of data and because programs are always changing but that’s the question EdChoice.org, tries to answer in US States Ranked by Educational Choice Share, 2019 . Even though the data are from different years, the results are still instructive.
EdChoice.org ranks states by six categories; number of programs, EdChoice share, other private school share, public district school share, charter school share and home school share. The analysis defines Ed Choice Share as “the proportion of all K-12 students who are enrolled in an educational savings account, school voucher or tax credit scholarship program.”
As far as EdChoice Share, interestingly, North Carolina ranks 14th behind Georgia. North Carolina is similarly ranked. Other categories where North Carolina is similarly ranked include Public District Share (12th) and public charter school share (14th). One area where the Tar Heel State took the top ranking however is Home School Share. EdChoice has North Carolina as the state with the highest percentage of K-12 students in home schools (7.7%) — and that’s by a wide margin. Arkansas, the state with the second highest ranking has 3.7 percent of K-12 students enrolled in home schools, less than half the percentage share of North Carolina.
The stats are interesting. However, we need to realize the EdChoice data is a year old and doesn’t include charter schools when calculating EdChoice share. If it did – and a case can be made for doing so – it’s a safe bet to assume North Carolina would rank even higher on most of the rankings.
So, what’s driving the numbers? Clearly, parents want more educational options.
That’s been known for some time. A January of 2019, Civitas Poll asked nearly 400 parents of school-aged children “if you were able to select the best school for your child and resources were not a problem, what type of school would you select for your child?”
Sixty-nine percent of respondents chose an option other than traditional public school. Over two-thirds of parents polled thought charter schools (13%), private schools (45%) home schools (9%) and Other schools (2%) would provide a better educational option for their children.
Such sentiments go a long way in explaining the growth in choice programs but also the disconnect between what parents want and available educational options.