General Assembly Creates New Choice Law
This week the North Carolina 2017 Session concluded with the General Assembly creating the nation’s sixth ESA law (education scholarship/savings accounts), an educational choice law that is truly money-follows-the-child. Parents will be able to direct state funds to an approved list of educational services, including private school tuition, tutoring, purchasing of educational curriculum and more. North Carolina joins Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee in enacting ESAs.
Senate Bill 257, the General Appropriations Act, contains the ESA legislation and several other pieces of substantive law. The legislature overwhelmingly approved the bill, although on Tuesday North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the budget and its omnibus suite of education reforms. By Wednesday morning both the Senate and House override that veto, effectively enacting these reforms into law.
Beyond ESAs, SB 257 also:
- Expands the existing Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income students.
- Funds transportation grants for charter schools that primarily serve low-income students.
- Expands bonuses for teachers whose students earn AP, IB or other advanced credits or industry certifications that give them a head start on college and careers.
- Increases teacher bonuses for North Carolina’s Read to Achieve early literacy program.
- Strengthens metrics and indicators for the state’s A-F School Grading school accountability law in concert with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
- Enhances North Carolina’s online school report card, providing clearer, more easily accessible information for parents and communities.
- Changes state testing laws to provide transparency and greater educational benefits for students, parents and teachers.