Raleigh (February 15, 2018) – Today, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) announced that founding President Darrell Allison will depart from the organization effective February 28th to become the National Director for State Teams and Political Strategy at the American Federation for Children (AFC).
“When I joined PEFNC as president on July 5, 2005, you could have knocked me over with a feather had you told me then that North Carolina would be where it is today—one of the leading states in the nation in K-12 education reform,” Allison said. “During the past 13 plus years, our diverse school-choice coalition— Black, White, Hispanic, Democrat, and Republican—has achieved numerous victories for parental school choice. I am honored and humbled that, since 2011, you’d be hard pressed to find another state that has implemented more new education reform programs than North Carolina.”
“About a month ago, I was presented with the opportunity to join AFC, enabling me to potentially build on the great work we’ve accomplished here in the Tar Heel State and duplicate efforts in other states,” Allison added. “Nationwide, AFC promotes sound, sustainable school choice policies that empower parents to choose the school best suited to their child’s needs. After much discussion, prayer, and reflection, I decided that I would take on this new opportunity. AFC has been leading the way nationally to make parental school choice a reality in many states through policy and political support of candidates who stand firm on the ideals of educational choice, but there’s still much more work still to do. While almost 500,000 children in the U.S. now attend private school by way of a state-sponsored scholarship, thousands more are in desperate need of better educational options.”
During Allison’s tenure as president of PEFNC, the organization has built a statewide coalition of more than 80,000 supporters of parental school choice. The first five years of PEFNC’s existence was dedicated to work in communities across North Carolina and then leverage such efforts to help create new educational options for families. Because of that groundwork, the organization’s success has skyrocketed beginning in 2011. This included the successful passage of three private-school measures plus—an expansion of public-charter school access—and the creation of tools to better connect families with their educational options.
Specific accomplishments include:
- The Opportunity Scholarship Program: Designed for low-income, working-class families, these scholarships provide up to $4,200 a year for eligible families to use toward the cost of private-school tuition. More than 7,557 students have accepted Opportunity Scholarships to attend private schools for the 2017-2018 school year and over 10,000 scholarships will be available for the 2018-19 school year.
- The Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant: Prior to passage of this scholarship grant, hundreds of thousands of special-needs students were in public schools because that was their only choice. Now, families are eligible for up to $8,000 annually in grants for such services as private-school tuition, tutoring, and other therapeutic services. PEFNC worked closely with the special-needs community to get this law passed.
- Special-Needs Education Savings Accounts: North Carolina’s new ESA program provides up to $9,000 per year in assistance for families with special-needs students to pay for educational choice options. Significantly, all three school-choice laws are stackable, offering up to $21,200 for a student for each school year.
- Public charter schools: PEFNC also played an instrumental role in helping to eliminate the cap on charter schools and expand the number of charters from 100 in 2011 to 173 for the 2017-2018 school year. Today, public charter schools serve over 100,000 students from 95 counties.
During the next few months, PEFNC will conduct a nationwide search for the new president of the organization. Executive Vice President Brian Jodice will serve as interim president during the transition.
“The entire board and I thank Darrell for his many years of commitment and service to the cause of parental school choice. Thousands of families and children have benefited from this labor of love, and we look forward to the next chapter of PEFNC as we continue to expand educational opportunity for all North Carolina children,” said Rick Adams, PEFNC Board Chairman.
Allison will remain in North Carolina while serving in his new role for AFC, and he will continue to proudly serve on the UNC Board of Governors.
“Although my time as head of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina is coming to an end, I cannot express enough how proud I am of the current leadership we have at the helm to continue this important work,” said Allison. “I am confident that I leave this organization in very strong and capable hands, and I’m excited about the future here in our great state.”
PEFNC is a statewide organization that supports greater educational options through parental school choice, such as public charter schools and the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Our mission is to inform parents of the benefits of expanded options and empower them to exercise freedom in meeting their children’s needs, regardless of race, national origin, income or religion.