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Celebrating School Choice Week in North Carolina

This week across the country, people are coming together to celebrate what is known as National School Choice Week. What started years ago as a grassroots movement advocating for the rights of parents to find the best educational environment for their children quickly grew, causing leaders to dedicate a week each year to celebrate this nation-wide movement with a variety of events and activities. In preparation for School Choice Week, we sat down with Brian Jodice of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) to discuss school choice in our state and the impact it is making.

What is School Choice?

School choice stems from the idea that one learning environment will not fit every child or every family equally. As a result, there are now a variety of educational options that parents can choose from based on what best meets their needs. As Brian explained, “Parents, families, and students across the state should have access to the school that’s the best fit for them.”

Here’s what that looks like in North Carolina.

Traditional Public School

This is the most common option, with approximately 1.3 million children attending more than 2,500 public schools across the state. In general, students are assigned a school based on their district, but there may be exceptions, such as in cases of unique hardship.

Public Charter School

With over 200 schools across the state and approximately 130,000 students enrolled, public charter schools are quickly growing in popularity. They work like public schools, but are allowed the freedom to innovate and operate in a way that best fits the school’s curriculum and approach.

Private Schools

Private schools are widely available, with more than 800 options across the state. They offer a variety of options to parents, especially since many of them are religiously affiliated. While they charge tuition, many offer scholarships. In addition to this, students with disabilities or families that meet certain income guidelines can qualify for North Carolina’s educational Opportunity Scholarships and/or scholarships for students with special needs. At present, there are approximately 115,000 students enrolled at a private school.


This option offers the most flexibility, as parents are able to tailor their children’s education as much as they want (provided they complete state assessments each year). Every family has the freedom to homeschool their children in North Carolina, provided the parent holds a high school diploma. There are more than 160,000 students being homeschooled across the state.

The response to school choice options in North Carolina has grown significantly over the last several years, with close to 20% of students now enrolled in a non-traditional school. Each of these models offer different advantages, so that parents can place their children in the environment that will help them thrive. Some of the deciding factors include things like class size, religion, and educational opportunities.

What’s in Store for 2023

When asked about what opportunities are in store for the school choice movement in 2023, Brian’s answer was growth, especially in terms of funding. He is optimistic that the state’s Opportunity Scholarship program will continue to grow in both popularity and capacity. This scholarship helps lower-income families that qualify to cover tuition at non-public schools. Similarly, he shared that he hopes the special needs scholarship will continue to expand so qualifying families with disabled children can get the resources that will help their children thrive. He also wants to see public charter schools receive more resources and equity in funding.

All of these school choice programs have been established by policies enacted by the state legislature. Unfortunately, in the past, as Brian points out, school choice legislation has not always been a bipartisan issue, but he is hopeful that future bills will grow to receive more support from both sides of the aisle. As he explains, by allocating funds towards these programs, lawmakers are supporting the individual students who will benefit from these options and the overall education of our communities. He explained that, “We should be doing more in North Carolina to fund students, not systems.

How You Can Get Involved

The school choice movement started out as a grassroots initiative, illustrating the importance of families and individuals getting involved. Here are Brian’s recommendations for getting involved in school choice in North Carolina:

  • Learn more about National School Choice Week: The event website includes valuable information for parents, educators, and organizations, as well as information on what options are available in each state.
  • Learn more about school choice in North Carolina: Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC), where Brian is the executive vice president, offers valuable information, events, and alerts that will keep you informed about school choice in our state.
  • Encourage legislators to support school choice programs: This one is critical, as school choice largely relies on legislation. Make sure you are subscribed to NC Family’s emails and Action Alerts, where we will keep you informed on what is going on at the legislature.
  • If you are in the Raleigh area, attend North Carolina’s National School Choice Celebration on Thursday, January 26: This free event is co-hosted by Black Led Schools of Choice, CarolinaCAN, EdChoice, John Locke Foundation, National School Choice Week, North Carolina Christian School Association, North Carolinians for Home Education, and Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.

Education is one of the key predictors of a child’s future success, and our children deserve to have access to the educational environment that best meets their needs.


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