On September 22, North Carolina became the ninth state with a universal school choice law on the books. Lawmakers unveiled their budget plan, which includes an expansion of the “Opportunity Scholarship”—a school choice program that gives families money to help pay for private school tuition. Adopted in 2013, the program was available only to children from lower income households. As of Friday, however, all families in the state can access the program—regardless of income.
The recently passed budget increases funding for the program from $176.5 million to $520.5 million by 2032-2033. The scholarship amount a child receives is awarded on a sliding scale, meaning lower-income children will receive more than children from higher-income households.
The John Locke Foundation, 50CAN, EdChoice, ExcelinEd, and the American Federation for Children played a role in this win—each working to bring educational freedom to the Tar Heel State.
Donald Bryson, CEO of the John Locke Foundation, noted:
“Today families across the state are celebrating the momentous passage of the expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The North Carolina House and Senate’s decision to secure education autonomy for all families comes at a time when it’s most needed. The next generation of North Carolinians must compete at a global level and we want our state’s youngest citizens to be well-prepared by accessing the best education possible. The John Locke Foundation applauds the legislature for their hard work on behalf of our state’s families.”
All Americans believe our children should have access to a quality education that sets them up for success. School choice policies like North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship are one way to reach that goal. By giving parents more options when it comes to K-12 education, parents are empowered to choose the learning environment that best fits the unique needs of their child—whether that’s public, private, or even home school.
North Carolina now joins Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia as states with “universal” school choice programs, which means all K-12 students can access the program. Indiana has a near universal program, with 97 percent of the state’s K-12 children eligible.
Tommy Schultz, CEO of the American Federation for Children, added:
“North Carolina’s bold step to expand the Opportunity Scholarship Program is not just a victory for its families; it’s a rallying cry for the rest of the nation. Let this be a resounding message to every state: the time is now to put students and families first, to break down barriers, and to empower parents with the freedom to choose the best education for their children.”
Texas may be the next state to pass a universal school choice program. The Texas Governor called for a special session on school choice that will start in October.
The Children Win in North Carolina
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
The Good, Bad, and Ugly in The Budget Bill
John Locke Foundation
North Carolina Opens Opportunity Scholarship Program to All Families
American Federation for Children