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NC Parents Enjoy “Power” in Education

ParentPowerIndex

North Carolina parents enjoy above average “power” in educational opportunity and choices for their children, according to the Center for Education Reform. The group’s 2015 Parent Power Index evaluates how much access parents have to quality options and information when making decisions about their children’s education. Although North Carolina received a “C” grade of 72.5 percent, the state places 16th overall in parental power, reflecting the firsthand experience many Tar Heel parents have in a relatively friendly school-choice state.

“North Carolina lawmakers have worked hard, especially in recent years, to make substantive policy changes that positively impact the ability of parents to choose the best educational options for their children,” said John L. Rustin, president of NC Family. “The Parent Power Index provides both recognition of these efforts and recommendations for future improvements, many of which NC Family will continue to support and promote.”

North Carolina surpassed the national average in four of five categories, including an impressive 100 percent in transparency, which measures “the transparency and accessibility of data for the average person” about school options and performance, as well as voter involvement in school board elections. The state also scored better than the national average in the areas of “teacher quality” and “charter schools,” and more than doubled the national average score in the “school choice” category.

Even with all the good news, the Index offers some suggestions for how North Carolina can continue to improve the state’s rank on the Parent Power Index, including:

  • Expanding parents’ ability to send their children to their public school of choice;
  • Expanding North Carolina’s charter school law to allow universities and school boards to be charter authorizers;
  • Removing barriers to new charter school growth to keep up with parental demand and increasing the current 15 percent approval rate for new charter schools; and
  • Enhancing student access and eligibility for participation in North Carolina’s Virtual Public School and virtual charter schools.

North Carolina’s positive educational environment reflected in the Index’s evaluation is not news to many parents in the state. Policy changes lauded by the Index—such as the removal of the arbitrary cap on charter schools, state-sponsored scholarship programs for low-income and special-needs students, the inclusion of student learning and growth measures in annual teacher evaluations, and easy access to school performance data—have all been welcome boosts to parents’ ability to make more informed and child-specific decisions in education.

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