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State Leaders Commemorate 25th Anniversary of NC Charter School Law

The following is a press release from the office of Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.  

North Carolina leaders and advocates today commemorated the 25th anniversary of North Carolina’s charter school law.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga), Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), and charter school advocates spoke today about the growing popularity of charter schools and the strength of the school choice movement.

In 1996, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the creation of public charter schools, giving parents a choice in sending their children to a school that best meets their needs. The movement has grown since then, reflecting parents’ embrace of school choice. Today, 126,000 children attend 200 North Carolina public charter schools, and eight in ten schools reported a waitlist.

Sen. Berger said, “There’s a philosophical war underway right now. It’s between bureaucrats and unions on one side and parents on the other side. Real school choice should be available to all, not restricted only to the elite who can afford it.”

Speaker Moore said, “Charter schools provide North Carolina students with more options that help them thrive in their learning environment. We owe our students nothing less. As charter school enrollment and waiting lists increase year after year, we must do what we can to support North Carolina families and their education needs.”

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson said, “I will always be an advocate for families having the decision on how and where they educate their children. Decisions that impact families should be made by families, and that is why I advocate for school choice.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said, “This is an exciting day as we celebrate the growth of public charter schools, and the momentum of school choice, here in North Carolina over the course of the last 25 years. Charter schools continue to provide a unique educational opportunity for our students – encouraging innovation while inspiring flexibility and creativity in order to set our students on the path to a successful future. I look forward to seeing how public charter schools continue to serve to North Carolina’s students and parents alike in the years to come.”

Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) said, “A charter school changed my own son’s education trajectory. All families deserve a choice in their child’s education.”

Lindalyn Kakadelis, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools, said,

“The growth and popularity of our state’s charter movement bear witness to the power of parental choice and freedom in education. Twenty-five years ago, lawmakers cast a vision for what deregulated public schools, held accountable for their performance, could do. Today, we see the results, as thousands of students have gone on to fulfill the promise of that original charter idea.”

The leaders acknowledged several former charter school students:

  • Tim Taylor is a member of the inaugural cohort of charter school students in North Carolina. He began attending Arapahoe Charter School in Pamlico County when the school first opened in 1997. Tim holds a Master of Healthcare Administration from Winston-Salem State University and has more than a decade of experience working in health care operations leadership and management. 
  • Hasana Muhammad attended two Wake County charter schools: Torchlight Academy and Casa Esperanza Montessori Charter School. She is now a rising junior at North Carolina A & T State University, pursuing a degree in Computer Science. Hasana credits her charter school teachers with instilling a love of foreign languages—she speaks Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic—as well as a love of math and reading. 
  • Rasheka Darrisaw attended Sugar Creek Charter School in Mecklenburg County. She graduated from Johnson C. Smith University with a degree in Criminology, later earning a Master of Arts in Psychology from Ashford University. Rasheka has returned to Sugar Creek Charter and has been working at the school as a substitute teacher. She will teach third grade next year. 
  • Will Gaines attended Chatham Charter School in Chatham County, avidly pursuing the school’s dual enrollment option, and earning 16 college credits while in high school. Will went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science from the University of Pennsylvania; both degrees are in Cellular and Molecular Biology. In just a few weeks, Will heads to New York City to begin a job as an analyst at Roivant Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company. 
  • Abigail Barbosa attended Sallie B. Howard School of Arts & Sciences in Wilson County. At Sallie B., “dreams never felt out of reach,” Abigail says. Sallie B. has been a family affair for the Barbosas: Abigail and all four of her siblings have attended the school. Abigail now works at Sallie B. as the elementary school principal’s assistant. 
  • Tyler Wikoff attended Lake Norman Charter School in Mecklenburg County. He went on to graduate from Creighton University with a degree in Neuroscience and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. Tyler will graduate with his MPH degree in May 2022.

EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.