A Bright Future for North Carolina

Hope you enjoyed Labor Day Weekend! As our nation celebrates a day dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American worker, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate a social and economic achievement changing the state of North Carolina - the Opportunity Scholarship.

This summer the Education Department at NC State University published early positive findings on the impact of the Opportunity Scholarship available to low-income K-12 students in NC (implemented 2013).

Along with “large, positive student achievements,” both families and private school leadership working with the Opportunity Scholarship shared their perspectives through an interview process. Some highlights from these interviews include:

  • 94% of parents participating in the Opportunity scholarship seemed very satisfied, grading their new school at an “A” or a “B”

  • 79% of parents said that although the scholarship could not cover all costs related to a new private school, that in many cases, these costs were offset by financial aid from the participating school

  • Participating schools reported being as satisfied with parent involvement of Opportunity Scholarship students as with non-scholarship students

Another interesting interview takeaway was both parent and school leadership have a clear desire for more diversity. A discussion with school leaders about why they agreed to participate in the program revealed the top three reasons were “to help disadvantaged students, to provide alternative curriculum, and to achieve greater racial and socioeconomic integration in schools.”

Then, when parents were asked about their satisfaction with their new school diversity, 41% answered they were very satisfied. But with 11,000 new applications this year and a 95% increase in applications since the previous year, there is a hope that this scholarship will continue to help families cross socioeconomic lines that they never had the power to cross before. A majority of both schools and parents desire more diversity, and it looks as if the Opportunity Scholarship is changing the conventional makeup of the public and private schools of North Carolina.

We are excited about the positive impacts happening inside the classroom in North Carolina, and we hope that choice will grow to be an option for all children in the state.