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With North Carolina decision, school choice reaches ‘escape velocity’

“Within a decade, more than half of U.S. states will have adopted a universal education choice policy,” predicts Jason Bedrick of the Heritage Foundation.

The North Carolina State Capitol building in Raleigh, N.C. Credit: Jill Lang/Shutterstock.
The North Carolina State Capitol building in Raleigh, N.C. Credit: Jill Lang/Shutterstock.

North Carolina became the ninth state to enact universal school choice when it passed its budget on Sept. 22.

It is the first in the nation to allocate education funding to parents, rather than schools, without a Republican trifecta, Fox News reported. The GOP controls both state house chambers; however, the state’s governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat.

“The story of the school-choice movement is still being written,” noted Jason Bedrick and Lindsey Burke, both of the Heritage Foundation. “But what has just transpired in North Carolina is likely to be remembered as a key turning point.”

State funding—slated to reach $520 million by 2032—will provide $6,500 scholarships in what are called Education Savings Accounts, which families can use for a variety of expenses, including supplies or private school tuition.

“The education choice movement has reached escape velocity,” Bedrick told JNS. “The most effective tactic of the choice deniers has been fear-mongering that a robust education choice policy would ‘destroy’ the district school system. Yet states like Arizona and Florida proved the Chicken Littles wrong.”

Looking ahead, Bedrick thinks that states with school choice “will further normalize the policy and make scaremongering even harder.”

“I predict that within a decade, more than half of U.S. states will have adopted a universal education choice policy,” he said.

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