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September 9, 2019 9:10 am
This week on Family Policy Matters, NC Family Communications Director Traci DeVette Griggs talks to Linda Nelson, a veteran educator and Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools (NCAIS). Nelson describes the diverse makeup of independent schools in North Carolina, and dispels many of the stereotypes people may have about private schools.
Family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the Carolina family hosted by Mrs. John Wilson presidency family were grateful to have you with us with the speech program is our prayer that you will be encouraged and inspired by what you your own family policy matters and that you are better equipped to the voice of persuasion, family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our host family policy matters, tracing veterans, thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters parents across the state are increasingly taking advantage of the growing number of non-traditional educational options for their children, and this includes more parents than ever accessing private education.
Many times, with the help of new state-sponsored scholarship programs over 102,000 North Carolina students attended a private school in the school year 2018, 19 and over 9600 of them did so using a North Carolina opportunity scholarship will little Nelson has put her 20+ years of experience and education to work on behalf of many of North Carolina's varied private schools in her role as Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Independent schools will NC AIS represents more than 80 schools with over 3800 teachers serving approximately 38,000 students. Linda now said welcome to family policy matters.
Thank you Tracy it's a pleasure to be with you today.
There are a lot of different kinds of private schools, so could you let us know what makes the school independent of private and what do these schools look like in general here North Carolina. Do you think certainly be a little confusing for families a lot of choices out there and it is hard to know what the differences are on private school in general are schools that are supported by the government there supported by another organization or group of individual goals are little tricky there really a subset of private mission driven petition in the government by an independent Board of Trustees fall under the supervision of a college or church or a corporation. They really are totally independent in their goblet that we do have some faith-based goals that are affiliated with churches in our organization, but from the pure definition independent schools would be schools that have no outside influence on their government does a disservice to talk about the average school in our state because they vary widely on smaller schools probably have 40 in our largest school has ever 1600 students are tuition probably across the state range from under $5000 to well over $20,000 and that's not including boarding fees at some of our boarding school everything from K5 school pre-k through 12th grade schools single-sex schools boarding school like they school special needs school pretty much run the gamut. So what are you hearing is the primary reason that parents choose a school for their children as opposed to some of the other choices. I think the reason for parents. She's a school for their children as reasons are as unique as the parents of the children themselves, at least in part, families Jesus goal but the best overall fit for their child who you'd like to spend the day leave your child enough in the school building where you don't feel comfortable giving time in the culture is what the environment you get the biological will ask a lot of questions and very very different and not all children and children the same family have to find a it's interesting the creation of independent schools in AIS a lot of time analyzing why families choose is up with a real interesting model about job. Why do families hire independent schools and for jobs and I think it's pretty interesting. Just as one job, but I think it's nice to look at that in terms of buyer families coming to the first job is to help my child overcome obstacles. The second job is to help me fulfill my child. Potential values align community.
The third job is to help me develop a well-rounded person who will impact the world in the fourth job is to help me realize my plan for my County child. If you think of it in those terms both for the parent in the school and it really the comfort of a different conversation. I think I think it's an important one to have. So when it comes to meeting needs state DC like the way that private schools go about meeting those needs is a lot different than for traditional schools or even nontraditional public schools like charter schools really speak for the public and the charter schools that don't have much experience or any experience they are. But as for private schools and especially for our schools and NC AIS, which we call in case it all starts with mention and are schools because they are private businesses have the ability to admit only that students are good fit for their program as guided by that mission.
From the very beginning we develop a relationship with the family.
From the moment they walk into the door when they enroll.
We get to know the student and the family well throughout the admissions process and then the onboarding process and they really get a chance to mentor school in as a part of that process. The family gets to know the teachers and the writers which cut through any perceived bureaucracy that they may see even in our largest our schools are 1600+ still, small communities and they had a fairly flat administrative hierarchy so you are asking questions, getting to the right person.
It's typically pretty easy in our schools and speaking for in case go here, especially articles are really good at differentiating instruction meeting where they are and providing appropriate challenges based on their readiness that may be helping them move forward in the areas that are interested in and that may be above and beyond the curriculum or it may be some remediation special assistance with subjects that are little bit harder for them. Learning models also focus much more on mastery rather than time and see that we are moving much more toward a more personalized learning environment which I think is the featured education in general was also a weekly radio show and podcast of the most a lot of family policy Council.
This is just one of the many ways in educating citizens across Mr. a lot of about policy issues that impact a lot of families. Our vision is to create a state or nation where God is on religious freedom for families and life more information about his family and how you can help us to achieve this incredible vision for our state and nation.
Visit our website NC family.org NC family.org and be sure to sign up to receive our email updates action alerts course reflection publication family North Carolina magazine would also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, oversight and accountability. Can you speak to the differences between private schools and public schools. As far as that's concerned. Yes, and I think that's an important question, especially with the opportunity scholarship and all depressed at getting likely pretty simply public schools were established, supported and funded by the public and said they are accountable to the public.
Private schools however establish supported and funded by individuals and private foundation really only to their Board of Trustees and their school community and those boards are responsible for setting the school's mission and ensuring that all the programs are mission appropriate boards are also responsible for the financial sustainability of the school and the school leadership, then that would be the head of school and administrative staff carry out the daily operations of the school in accordance with that mission and vision of the board.
This would include designing curriculum define expected learning outcomes for each grade schools administer standardized test, nationally normed achievement test in accordance with the requirements of the Department of nonpublic education in North Carolina. We report those test results to parents usually are schools will report in aggregate some sort of summary report for the board and the whole school community as well and then our schools typically provide a school profile which would show college acceptances SAT scores ACT scores so yet. One other benchmark that would measure the value that our education is bringing to our families. In addition, and emphasis specifically for our intake schools. We are all accredited by regional accrediting agencies and these agencies require self-study and on site visits every five years by teams of peer educators really important differentiator because we are constantly looking ourselves in trying to become better and for bringing colleagues, and to collaborate in here what they're doing. Apart from each other but I think the highest measure of accountability. The private community comes from parents to pay tuition annually they choose each year whether to return. They expressed their value and their satisfaction by paying tuition for their child within the next year or so, we get some pretty immediate accountability. They are when it comes time to pay tuition. Good point will take a few minutes to address some of the opposition that we might here to private schools, and particularly the scholarship program going to private schools. How do you respond to, say, an argument that private schools are only for the wealthiest or smartest or most accomplished students and disproportionately ignore the needs of low income students. Glad you asked that question, Tracy. That's a common misconception that are schools with average to well above average ability, including a lot of students with special learning needs.
An increasing number of our schools are moving towards index tuition, which means that all parents complete financial profile and the tuition they pay is based on what they can afford a sliding scale approach to all men, a member of our schools as well happen. Situational aid programs that target mission appropriate students who would not otherwise be able to afford it. I do feel like that we look at bringing in some diversity of all kinds, including families that could not allow for the school. So do you feel like then that answers another criticism that private schools may discriminate based on which students they choose to accept an interesting question for something from a legal perspective are schools in case schools each year and it's a part of our 501(c)(3) status being a nonprofit in North Carolina were required to publish a nondiscriminatory statement for all of our schools have to subscribe to that statement and that prohibits instrumentation on the basis of race, national and ethnic origin in the legal requirement that beyond that are schools are mission driven organizations and as a part of the mission driven organization. You have a responsibility to only accept students who by virtue of what you've learned about them through the admissions process that demonstrated that they are good for and that they have a strong likelihood of being successful one to bring student send it to be successful in our program. So I think it's it's more about that is getting in the getting excepted so that school enrollment has either been dropping or holding steady for several years until recently, so do you attribute that to any particular saying as far as some increased enrollment now in North Carolina. Private schools don't have any data to support this, but I do think it's reasonable to attribute much of the growth to school choice and the students that now have the opportunity to target antigen of private education.
I think to the increase in the number of students and just the increase in the higher visibility were getting about school and about education and about options.
I think that both from an enrollment perspective and just an awareness perspective. We are getting a lot more publicity out there, and families are considering private education at a higher level than maybe they did in the past 12 were just about a time for this week. But before we got. Linda went to the listeners go to learn more about your private school organization, and perhaps what private schools are available in their own areas. Certainly website is www.caiapps.org and we have a lot of information on there for families. We often have a listing of all our members who with a link to their website. The Department of nonpublic education has a full listing of all private schools that are recognized by the state on their website, and I believe they break down by counties or regions so you can certainly begin to narrow things down there to the two daises in the state that human Western Catholic diocese their websites have information on your school North Carolina Association of Christian schools would have a lot of information on along with a CSI which is the Association of Christian schools International and then I will go to the parent for educational freedom website. If you're looking for opportunity scholarship schools. They have a full listing and and they are always there to help families who are looking for options thank you Linda Nelson for your commitment to serving the educational needs of North County families and for being with us today on family policy matters with housing. We hope you enjoyed the program and to do it again next week to listen to the show online insulin more about NC families want to warm encourage and inspire families across the a lot of our website and see family.ward that's in see family.org. Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family