News: Quick Takes

Enrollment growth continues for home, charter, and private schools

North Carolina continues to see growth in homeschooling, charter schools, and private schools, a recent report from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction says. 

The report shows more than 80,000 additional students have chosen an educational option beyond their locally assigned district school between 2008 and 2018. Parents cite a variety of reasons to seek educational options beyond assigned district schools. 

“There are three common reasons that parents pull out of public schools,” said Matthew McDill, president of North Carolinians for Home Education. “Bullying, special needs such as learning or physical disabilities that require special attention, and public schools teaching values that are inconsistent with the religious and political values of the parents.” 

Homeschooling in North Carolina grew by roughly 7% in the 2017-18 school year, a report by the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education says. 

Meanwhile, Opportunity Scholarships have helped parents wanting to send their children to private schools. 

“The Diocese and its schools have continued to expand along with the Catholic population and population of our state as a whole,” said Michael J. Fedewa, Diocese of Raleigh school superintendent. “Particularly in areas outside of the Triangle, Opportunity Scholarships have increased the ability of lower-income families to afford a Catholic education in one of the 29 schools we operate across the 54 eastern counties of North Carolina the diocese serves.” 

Mike Long, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, believes this growth, in part, reflects North Carolina’s progress on providing choice to parents. In an email, he says, “We eliminated the cap on public charter schools and we’ve created a trio of private school choice programs, all choices that are breaking down barriers so that families can access the education that they feel is the best fit for their child.”

So far, DPI has released enrollment data through the eight month of the 2018-19 school year with the ninth month and final figures pending. 

Terry Stoops, vice president of research and director of education policy at the John Locke Foundation, remains optimistic. “Enrollment figures are trending in favor of home, private, and charter school options,” said Stoops. “I suspect their market share to increase unless lawmakers decide to impose restrictions on schools of choice.”