(The Center Square) – North Carolina’s recent education changes through the state budget would have generated a perfect score in one category and a No. 12 national ranking in the ALEC Index of State Education Freedom analysis.
Listed at No. 35, North Carolina earned a D for the first-time rankings released last week. The 12th spot would have been a B, wrote Andrew Handel in an email to The Center Square. He’s director of the Education and Workforce Development Task Force at ALEC.
“Had the NC ESA been reflected in this year’s rankings, NC would have moved up from 35th to 12th and received a perfect score in the funding category,” Handel wrote. “The rankings will be done annually and next year’s version will reflect the universal ESA passage in NC.”
In the five major categories for scoring, the Old North State earned an A for charter schools; D in homeschooling; D in virtual schooling; F in open enrollment; and F in financing programs.
Handel said the report is based on policies effective in states prior to June 1. The state budget, which implements universal school choice, was passed on Sept. 22 and went into effect this week.
North Carolina is the 10th state in the country to create universal school choice for its more than 1.5 million K-12 students, and the first to do so without benefit of a Republican trifecta in state government.
Handel said the rankings also do not reflect active litigation. Leandro, the landmark litigation of Leandro v. State that was filed in 1994, remains unresolved in a funding authority dispute.
The report from the American Legislative Exchange Council, which bills itself as America’s “largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism,” used this new analysis to replace the nearly quarter-century-old Report Card on American Education. The authors say states are evaluated on “essential policies that change students’ lives by empowering parents and families with choice in education.”
In its overview of methodology and scoring, the authors wrote, “Too many communities around the country utilize a “one-size-fits-all” system of education, assigning children to a public school based on nothing more than a street address. This arcane method neglects the unique and individual needs of each student and fails to recognize that, while many students will succeed and thrive in their local public school, many will also experience more success through various non-public educational options.
“The goal of this publication is to offer a comprehensive look at the educational options available to American families and, most importantly, demonstrate where each state can improve and keep pace with their peers. We hope that this newly reimagined publication serves as a resource to the dedicated policymakers around the country who are looking to expand freedom in education for their constituents.”