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It’s National School Choice Week. Here’s where N.C. students choose to go

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This week is National School Choice Week. It’s held every January, and its purpose is to highlight all the options parents and students have for attending K-12 schools, including traditional public, public magnet, public charter, online, private, and home-schools.

In 2022, Gov. Roy Cooper proclaimed school choice week for the first time in North Carolina.

Traditional public schools remain the biggest option for North Carolina families. According to the state Department of Instruction’s (DPI) statistical profile, North Carolina had a little over 1.4 million students enrolled in public schools in 2022.

And public schools offer lots of choice, including lab schools, magnet schools, language-immersion schools, restart schools, and more. Here you can explore the options provided in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, for example.

Another option is charter schools. This year, North Carolina has 203 charter schools, and seven schools participating in a planning year, according to this May press release from DPI. The 100-school cap on charters was lifted in 2011, meaning the state has just in the last few years doubled its number. And funding for charter schools has held steady under President Joe Biden’s leadership.

According to DPI’s statistical profile, there are almost 136,000 students enrolled in the state’s charter schools in 2022. Charter schools are not run by school districts but instead run by for-profit or nonprofit charter operators. These schools get certain flexibilities from the rules and requirements that apply to traditional public schools.

And then there are private schools. The state Department of Administration has enrollment in the state’s private schools at a little over 115,000 for 2022. Along with this, the state has opportunity scholarships, disability scholarships, and education savings accounts that help students attend the private school of their choice.

Outside of these options, another big chunk of North Carolina students are in home-schools. The state Department of Administration reports there are 100,904 home-schools across the state, and 52.9% of them are religious. The state estimates that there are more children in home-schools than in either charter or private schools.

There are more than 40 School Choice Weeks events happening in North Carolina.

In Raleigh, there are a number of events on Thursday, including a student rally and a student showcase. And there are a number of events being held at schools throughout the state this week.

In addition, as part of School Choice Week, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina is awarding distinguished educator awards to people all over the state throughout the week. Those awards will be showcased here.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.