Reece Gardner: Education choices on the rise

Reece Gardner: Education choices on the rise

Today, I want to talk about education, and I want to begin by thanking the great teachers here and elsewhere who regularly go beyond the call of duty to provide the best education possible for our children. they are faced with numerous challenges, not the least of which is the changing face of education throughout the country. It is revealing that twenty percent of North Carolina's K-12 students do not attend traditional public schools. As NC Capitol Connection reports, "Of the 1.8 million North Carolinians enrolled in K-12 schools, around 354,000 are now attending charter, private, or home schools"

The Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) estimates that slightly more than 142,000 K-12 students are active homeschoolers, 102,406 students are in private schools, and 112,000 students are attending charter schools. North Carolina has seen an 84 percent increase in homeschoolers since 2007-2008. A Civitas Poll from January revealed record support for school choice. Ninety-two percent of North Carolinians surveyed believe that parents or guardians should have a choice on where their children attend school. That same poll asked 400 parents of school-aged children, "If you were able to select the school for your child and resources were not a problem, what type of school would you select?"

The response was as follows: Traditional public schools, 33 percent; Private schools, 45 percent; charter, 13 percent, and homeschool, 9 percent. This effort has now attracted national attention.

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan resolution on May 14 celebrating the 20th anniversary of National Charter School Week. The resolution came with a significant number of co-sponsors, Democratic and Republican, including NC Senator Richard Burr. North Carolina has a long history with charter schools. In 1996, the General Assembly passed the Charter School Education Opportunity Act, allowing the creation and funding of public charter schools in the state. Today, 184 charter schools operate in North Carolina.

School choice programs where a child attends public, private, charter, or home school is just another means of education, with parents or guardians being empowered to make the decision of which school is best for their child. If one of our most important goals is to produce informed and educated citizens, who contribute to our society and workforce, then our main concern should be in finding the best way of doing that, and giving freedom of choice to parents to choose the school of their choice, whether private, public, charter, homeschooling, or community colleges.

Now for a little humor: Two grown brothers, Leroy and Melvin, lived with their mother in her home.

Melvin had a cat named Elowishis that he was very fond of. Melvin was rather timid and shy, but his brother Leroy was brash and rather arrogant. Melvin had to go away for about 3 weeks on a business trip in Colorado and after a little over a week there he called home. Leroy got on the phone and Melvin asked him, "How is Elowishes?", to which Leroy brusquely replied, "Elowishes is dead!" This shook Melvin up considerably, and when he was able to talk he said, "Leroy, you are so rude.

You could have handled that terrible news much better than you did. First, when I asked about Elowishes, you could have said "Elowishes is caught up on the roof." Then when I called back later, you could have said, "Elowishes is still caught up on the roof, but we are doing everything we can to get him down safely." Then when I called again, you could have gently said, "We did everything we could, but Elowishes fell off the roof and died." You didn't have to be so rude. You shook me up so badly that I forgot to ask about Mother. How is Mother?" Leroy replied, "Mother's caught up on the roof!"

Have a wonderful day!

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