National School Choice Week recognizes education options in NC

The Duke Energy tower is lit in honor of National School Choice Week. Photo courtesy of National School Choice Week

RALEIGH — The 11th annual National School Choice Week kicked off on Jan. 23 and runs through Jan. 29.  

Some 830 events celebrating student and school choice are scheduled to take place across North Carolina this week. Two such events include a teacher recognition contest and a Public Charter Schools fair.  

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina is celebrating by recognizing five educators who have “gone above and beyond to serve their students and schools in a series of difficult school years.” The organization welcomes nominations for the award from administrators, principals and colleagues. The five winners selected will be given their awards in-person at their respective schools if possible.  

The five winners will get an award certificate and a National School Choice swag bag, and they will also receive a $250 cash award, a $150 school donation, and a $100 classroom wish list fulfillment. Additionally, there will be press coverage of the award at both the state and national level.  

For more information on how to nominate a teacher for the award, visit: 
https://www.pefnc.org/vote4myteacher. 

The North Carolina Association of Public Charter Schools (NCAPCS) was to hold a School Choice Week event on Jan. 22, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Raleigh Convention Center. Charter school representatives from across the state were to be on hand to take questions, however, cancellation occurred due to weather. 

For more information on NACPS and future events visit: 
https://www.ncpubliccharters.org/. 

The number of students utilizing school choice options — spanning homeschooling, public charter schools, and private schools — has risen significantly since the start of the pandemic. Across those options, total school choice enrollment rose 11.5 percent, going from 368,122 in 2019-20 to 410,485 in 2020-21. Figures for school choice enrollment options in the current school year, once finalized, are likely to show further increases. 

In 2019-20, homeschooling student numbers stood at 149,173. That number has exploded since the pandemic to 179,900 in 2020-21; a nearly 21% increase.  

With the help of school choice options like the Opportunity Scholarship program, private school enrollment has also increased from around 103,959 in 2019-20 to around 107,340 in the last year. According to the NC Education Assistance Authority, which oversees the Opportunity Scholarship Program, there are 19,401 students who are grant recipients for 2021-22. 

Charter schools have seen a steady increase in both popularity and enrollment over the years. Parents seeking options during the pandemic spurred enrollment further, with charter school populations growing from 114,990 in 2019-20 to 123,244 in 2020-21. 

The high demand for charter schools is also evidenced by the more than 76,000 students on charter school enrollment waitlists in recent years. 

2021 marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of public charter schools in North Carolina through the Public Charter Schools Act passed in 1996. There are around 200 public charter schools in North Carolina today. 

About A.P. Dillon 656 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_