The North Carolina Association of Public Charter Schools (NCAPCS) held a rally event in Raleigh on Tuesday that included big names such as North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Dan Forest and Ms. Aimee Viana, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE).
“School choice really is about our kids. It’s about young people. It’s not about institutions,” said Forest.
“It’s not about traditional public school institutions. It’s not about a charter school institution. It’s not about private school institutions or homeschool. It’s not about those things,” Forest said. “It is about the young people. It’s about the kids. It’s about providing the best opportunity for that individual child to explore their potential and get the most out of their education.”
Viana told attendees that school choice isn’t about picking this school or that one and it wasn’t about private versus public.
“Choice is about freedom,” Viana told the attendees. “Freedom to learn. Freedom to learn differently. Freedom to explore. Freedom to fail and to learn from falling. And to get back up and try again.”
Other speakers included Joe Maimone, Chief of Staff for North Carolina, Superintendent Mark Johnson, Courtney Samuelson, 2018 NC Charter School Teacher of the Year, and Victor Clifton, a High School Senior at Henderson Collegiate charter school.
In his remarks, Joe Maimone urged parents to research the vast array of public school choice options available in the state.
“Twenty-two years after the passage of charter school legislation, one does not have to look very far to see the incredible change that has come to public education in North Carolina,” Maimone said. “North Carolina charter enrollment passed a major milestone this school year with more than 100,000 students attending our 184 charter schools.”
Charter School Teacher of the Year Courtney Sanderson unscored the importance of school choice by noting that a school is somewhere a child spends at least “seven hours a day.”
Henderson Collegiate charter school senior Victor Clifton told the attendees about how his educational journey, how his new school impacted his life and how being challenged raised the bar for what normal had been in his life.
“I became accustomed to high expectations – in fact, it became my new normal, “Clifton said.
Earlier in the week, Mike Long, the President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) told the attendees of a School Choice event that “School choice is the civil rights movement of our time.”
Long was speaking to a group at an event held by the John Locke Foundation, a conservative non-profit policy center located in Raleigh.
It was recently announced that North Carolina is one of eight states to have won a 5-year federal charter school opportunities expansion grant worth $26.6 million.
In 2017-18, there were 100,986 students attending one of over 180 public charter schools in North Carolina.
Charter schools in North Carolina are public schools authorized by the State Board of Education and operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. The system is overseen by the Charter School Advisory Board or CSAB for short.
Charter school funding comes through state and local tax dollars. Currently, public charters in the state are underfunded at an average rate of around $1,000 a student. Charters do not receive the same funding as district schools in terms of transportation or building costs.
Charter schools have open enrollment but often have to hold lotteries due to a large number of applicants for few available slots. State law also forbids discrimination in admissions or the charging of tuition.
Many of the guidelines and regulations district schools follow do not apply to public charter schools which grants more freedom in how subjects are taught, however, charter schools are still subject to the State assessment and accountability system.
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