School choice advocates in North Carolina now have even more data to back their assertion that greater educational freedom and choice are in the best interest of low and moderate-income children. A new study released by N.C. State’s College of Education has found numerous aspects of the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program to be academically beneficial to students.
“This is the first academic report card for the Opportunity Scholarship Program, and the news is good,” said Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) Interim President Brian Jodice in a morning press release. Civitas Policy Director, Dr. Bob Luebke, will review the academic findings of this study in an upcoming article.
For now, I’d like to highlight another aspect of NCSU’s report that many parents and school choice advocates will find interesting.
Of the 2,425 Opportunity Scholarship parents surveyed, 94 percent reported being very satisfied with their child’s new school environment. Talk about customer satisfaction!
When looking at some of the particulars behind this high number, the two highest scorers in parental satisfaction came from school safety and the integration of character and values, both coming in at 71 percent.
A recent Civitas Poll surveyed perception on school safety at private schools when compared to public. It found that likely voters were twice as likely (44/22) to believe private schools provided a safer environment for students.
The NCSU study found that a quarter of parents cited this concern for school safety as the primary reason they pulled their child out of their district school. Out of the entire group of Opportunity Scholarship parents surveyed, 92 percent cited school safety as “very important” when it came to selecting a private school.
Nonetheless, the Opportunity Scholarship Program is not without its opponents. For example, an article in the Charlotte Observer reads, “critics say the [Opportunity Scholarship] money would be better spent on public education. They note that the state demands strict accountability from public schools but very little from private schools that get taxpayer checks.”
By this logic, however, less “accountability”–in its standardized, highly utilitarian, quantitative-obsessed form–actually led to better results in parental satisfaction and student achievement. Those determined to resist school choice should stop issuing disingenuous statements like, “This is about transparency and accountability,” when what they really mean is this is about state control and discrimination against those who hold a different religious or moral worldview.
When it comes to private school accountability, many schools are members of accrediting associations, which ensure academic quality. Private schools are also required to follow the same health, safety, and nondiscrimination rules as that of their public school counterparts. Lastly, private schools receive most of their money from tuition, which means they are responsible to parents in ways the average public school is not.
As a parent of four school-age children, I submit that education choice provides parents with another quality option for educating their children. That’s what parents want. And so far, the results for students and parents are encouraging.