School Choice and the North Carolina Constitution

Education has always been an issue of central concern for the people of North Carolina. Even before statehood, the area’s colonists made concerted efforts to secure the blessings of education for their children. In 1776, the authors of North Carolina’s first Constitution required the Legislature to provide publicly funded schools to encourage education in the state. i Throughout the state’s history its people have adopted all sorts of innovative educational plans, all designed to promote learning among North Carolina’s young citizens. Education’s special place of concern in the minds of North Carolinians is further revealed by reading the state’s current Constitution, which dedicates both a section of its Declaration of Rights ii and an entire article iii to the subject. Education is, unquestionably, a subject to which the people of this state have shown a deep and abiding commitment.

In spite of this commitment, there continues to be a significant debate as to the most effective means of providing North Carolina’s children with the best possible education. The one point upon which a great majority agree is that, despite substantial increases in funding, public education is not meeting the needs of a large proportion of the state’s students. This paper will present parental school choice as a promising alternative to the educational status quo. At the same time, it will explain why school choice is not only consistent with both the Constitution of North Carolina and the Constitution of the United States, but would assume a comfortable place among North Carolina’s long history of innovative efforts to secure for its citizens the very best that education has to offer.

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