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Fighting For The Freedom To Choose

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
September 16, 2019 9:28 am

Fighting For The Freedom To Choose

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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September 16, 2019 9:28 am

This week on Family Policy Matters, NC Family Communications Director Traci DeVette Griggs sits down with Mike Long, President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. Long shares why 20% of North Carolina families are exploring non-traditional schooling options, and how the Millennial parent mindset of having options continues to influence this school choice trend.

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Family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the family policy Council, this is John Ralston presidency family and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that she will flow better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters. Tracy Devitt brings thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters.

We spent the last few weeks taking a closer look at just a few of the many options that North Carolina families have for educating their children this week were going to look at the state level environment that allows for these kinds of options to exist here.

The North Carolina Gen. assembly has made educational freedom a top priority over the last several years and greatly expanded both the policy and monetary support for parents who want more educational choices while Mike Long is a North Carolina native with a long history in education who now serves as president of parents for educational freedom in North Carolina.

It's the preeminent school choice advocacy organization here in North Carolina. Mike long welcome to family policy matters that Detroit be always good to talk to you.

It's great to have you back here now in a new role for parents for educational freedom so start off by giving us some information about that organization and what role it plays in the school choice arena sure Preparatory educational freedom in North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that advocates for quality education options through parental school choice. So our mission is to engage at the grassroots level. Educate North Carolinians about the options in our state and then empower families to have a voice in their children's education. So were North Carolina source for parental school choice and we believe in allowing parents to send their children to the school of their choice. Either traditional or nontraditional schools that we recognize that education is not a one-size-fits-all, and the children have unique needs. So family should have the freedom to choose the best education to meet those needs, regardless of their race, their ZIP Code or their income.

We do know that educational choice has been exploding in North Carolina what the numbers tell us about parents desire for school choice here. Yet the percentage of North Carolinians.

It's it's about 1.8 million K-12 students that attend traditional public schools that is dropped 79.9% this year. That means at 20% of North Carolina families are exploring the choice options there doing it either through public charter schools.

That's about 100,000+ students in North Carolina.

They're doing it through private schools. Another hundred thousand plus students and also homeschools about 150,000+ students so over 350,000 students in our state are in schools that of their parents choose regardless of their ZIP Code. That's 20% of them, and to me that is very, very significant. That is significant. So how does this happen and how has North Carolina become so choice friendly when it comes to education. Well as the new president. I did a little research and looked at some history myself going back to 2011 I simply have concluded that there is no other state in the country that has more choice friendly options and programs been here North Carolina started back in 2011 when the state eliminated the cap on charter and charter schools and establish North Carolina's first private school choice program through a disability, scholarship, learning disability scholarships. All of that happened in 2011 and then in 2013 the opportunity scholarship program was established in that's designed to help low income and working-class families have equal access to private schools of their choice that they feel can best meet the needs of their children.

In 2018 North Carolina adopted the education savings account for special needs students here in North Carolina so we have three basic major scholarship opportunities unlike any other state in the country and and I believe that's how the state has become so choice friendly and I have other ideas and reasons behind why so many families are choosing school choice over the ZIP Code at school they are required to go to if you want to talk about that. Please, I'm a former Christian school head of school in Charlotte and one in Atlanta. I'll tell you, going back go 35 years. When I first started teaching in the public schools. I remember parents back then would come going hey, we're here in the community and were looking forward to being a part of our community school of that mentality is changed dramatically with the millennial parent today it's no longer hey were here in the community. Read it ready to be a part of the community school is hey we would like to come to your school and would like to know what your school can personally do for our child. Can your school best meet the needs of our child. When I would explain what our school would do if that parent felt that it did meet their child's needs. Then they wanted to be a part of that school as their community school so it's it's all about what the best fit for my child, and so when you talk about the millennial mindset of the parent today is you mean just because I live in this ZIP Code government is going to require me to go to that school is just not going to fly well and that's watch 20% and growing and growing and growing parents today want school choice, that's interesting. So what you're saying is that there's there's this dramatic shift in culture and in thought and in your opinion is, is this going to be stopped is us a fan. Not at all when you know when you reach a 20% milestone appearance North Carolina exercising school choice.

That's not a fad that is significant and and what I want people to understand is parents for educational freedom is not at all opposed war against the public schools week we want parents to be able to choose what school best fits the needs of their child. If that is their community public school that their ZIP Code to attend. Fantastic. We want to see that school improvement if that is a charter school if it's a private school if it's homeschools.

We believe parents should be able to decide what school best fits the needs of their child, not a archaic governmental system that says one-size-fits-all and just because you live in this ZIP Code. You must go to that school regardless listening policy matters weekly radio show and podcast of the North Carolina family policy Council.

This is just one of the many ways and works to educate citizens across North Carolina about policy issues that impact families.

Our vision is to create a state a nation where God is on religious freedom versus families were in life's cherished more information about his family and how you can help us to achieve this incredible vision for our state and nation.

Visit our website and see and see and be sure to sign up to receive our email updates, action alerts, and of course our flagship publication family North Carolina magazine. We also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and well long list of educational choice friendly policies.

But what about some weak points regarding policy interstate while some say that because of school choice you're taking away funding from the public schools. First of all, that's not the case at all in the state of North Carolina.

These are separately funded programs to allow parents the opportunity to exercise school choice of their they're not taking any funding away from the public schools that the other thing that is amazing to me is a former private head of school was the number of public school teachers that would come to me seeking employment in our school well on an average public school teachers today are making $53,000 a year, and yet I would have teacher after teacher from the public school system wanted to come to our private school at an average of $32,000 a year so see there are so many other reasons than just teacher pay as to why so many teachers are leaving the public school system for private school options and then at the same time, most of the private schools and charter schools operate on far less capital than the public schools. I'm all for great pay for teachers. I'm all for the fact that these public school teachers have been able to get a pay raise in North Carolina for the last five years, but it's not just about teacher pay as to why so many parents are leaving the public school system and choosing these other school opportunities, and other teachers are leaving as well.

There so many other factors involved. You can talk about safety issues.

You can talk about bureaucratic issues. You can talk about all of these other issues, but what I'm saying is, it is the millennial parent and their mentality of choice today that is really elevating the Exodus from the public school system to these other opportunities and schools like specifically, we hear that school choice is causing a kind of resegregation in Lotta communities are slightly several communities true. If it is, are there ways that we can address that you can address that. So that this does not become a bigger problem will remember in the old south of the segregation and Jim Crow South.

Segregation was forced.

These choices are not forced. These are decisions that parents are making in the best interest of their child. We we work with over 10,000 opportunity scholarship parents that simply want another opportunity. School choice for their child rather than the ZIP Code of public school that they're supposed to attend. I have yet to have one African-American, Latino, white across the board that it said the reason they want to leave the school is over a racial reason, not one, but know it is about what is the best educational interest for their child.

What I'll tell you is when you have those who do. Let's say have the opportunity to choose because they have the economic means of choosing the school that they want to go to and they leave a particular area to attend that school there exercising school choice.

What about those who cannot. So we went when you just allow a certain segment that has the money to exercise school choice to leave then then it's inevitably segregating on its own, and if you want to desegregate a particular area, you have a smaller pool to choose from. School choice will actually make that better because it parents do not have to leave the community because they can choose which school they want to attend in that community.

They stay if they stay businesses stay businesses stay economic development roads. It's a win-win.

Across the board for the community.

Let's talk big picture funding so we know the legislature and the governor have spent much of this year at odds over how and where to focus education money break that down for us where to North Carolina's education dollars go traditional public school spending is $10 billion for the year 2018 19 public charter state spending is 675 million.

The opportunity scholarship. The disability grant the education savings account is approximately 60 million. So since 2013 opportunity scholarships are provided. As I said up to $4200 per student towards private school education for some of the neediest students in the state of North Carolina. These are median household income families enrolled in the program.

They generally make around $31,000 a year. So these are not rich families and an opportunity scholarship is often their best hope to give their children the right fit for education also they reduce class size. That's another thing that so many on the public school front argued that we need smaller class opportunity scholarship gives that obviously were a little bit concerned only opportunity scholarship side when the governor comes out and publicly says that he believes that the opportunity scholarship program is an expense that needs to stop. First of all our children are not an expense.

Our children and investment, and this is an investment that saves the state money lowers classroom size in the public school system, and provides parents the opportunity to choose what best fits the needs of their child now would just about out of time for this week.

But before we go where can the listeners go to learn more about their educational options here in North Carolina where we make it very easy parents for educational freedom in North Carolina that is PEFMC.or we have everything there at your fingertips from helping you find a school that can best meet the needs of your child to see if you qualify for opportunity scholarship. We have parent liaison team all over the state of mostly moms who have benefited from the scholarships that walked parents through the application process help you get that scholarship and then help you find the school that would best meet the needs of your child Mike long. We appreciate your work to foster opportunities in North Carolina for every student to learn in the past most appropriate environment for them and thank you for joining us on family policy, listening to family policy. We hope you enjoy the program and plan to tune in again next week to listen to the show online insulin more about NC families work to encourage and inspire families across the Lotta good our website it NC family.that's NC

Thanks again for listening and may God bless you

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