North Carolina improved its performance on education freedom metrics from a year ago, moving from 15th to 14th place in the conservative Heritage Foundation’s annual rankings.
The Tar Heel State scored between Alabama, at 13th; and Missouri, at 15th. The top five performing states are Florida, Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, and Indiana.
The bottom five are Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts.
“North Carolina does exceptionally well in giving families the freedom to choose among private schools and charter schools, as well as other learning environments, especially since expanding its K–12 education savings account (ESA) policy so that all families can use ESAs to customize the education of their children,” Heritage said. “North Carolina could improve its ranking by boosting participation in its K–12 ESAs, making it easier for charter schools to open and operate, removing excessive regulations on homeschooling families, and giving families a choice of traditional public schools beyond their assigned school.”
Heritage gave North Carolina kudos for passing a Parents Bill of Rights, which increased the state’s transparency score.
The state would likely have performed even better this year, but the Heritage Foundation finalized their list before the state adopted a significant expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The adoption of that expansion will be reflected in next year’s rankings.
“We always want rankings to reflect that North Carolina is a national leader, but the fact that we rank #14 in these rankings indicates how quickly educational transparency and school choice have swept the nation post-Covid,” said Donald Bryson, CEO of the John Locke Foundation. “I look forward to seeing the Old North State’s ranking increase in 2024 when our universalized Opportunity Scholarships are calculated. Nonetheless, it’s clear that opponents of educational freedom across the nation may as well be trying to stop the tides.”