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Public school enrollment is plummeting in North Carolina because of school choice

Thank Republican lawmakers

If you want to see how parents act when the government stops forcing an educational monopoly on them, look to North Carolina.

Nearly 20 percent of students are attending something other than a traditional public school, where attendance is falling “rapidly,” according to The News & Observer.

The rush toward charter, private and even home schools is largely due to the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2010.

Lawmakers have since removed the 100-school cap on charter schools (it’s up to 185 as of this fall), created a $4,200 voucher for low-income families and two programs for special-needs kids to get out of public schools (where they are often treated poorly), and even made it easier for non-parent adults to teach homeschoolers.

Charter schools have grown by twice as many students as public schools have lost since the 2014-15 school year, The News & Observer reports:

Newly released state figures show that during that same three-year period, enrollment in homeschools went up by 28,896 students and private schools gained 4,516 students. Private school enrollment had been on the decline before the voucher program was created.

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The enrollment disparity was particularly sharp during the 2017-18 school year, when traditional public schools lost 6,011 students from the prior year even as charter schools, homeschools and private schools combined added 18,093 students.

The percentage of students attending the state’s traditional public schools has dropped 5.6 percentage points since the 2010-11 school year.

Even in districts where public enrollment is growing, it is massively slowing down: Charter growth nearly doubled traditional schools in Wake County, and private and homeschool growth each closely followed traditional growth.

It’s going to get worse in one of the state’s major population centers, Mecklenburg County, where lawmakers this year granted four towns the option to create their own municipal charter schools.

Brian Jodice, interim president of Parents For Educational Freedom in North Carolina, said the climate is “getting friendlier by the day to help families make choices in their children’s education and we’ll see the trend continue of more families making alternative educational options.”

Read the article.

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h/t Kevin Boyd

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