In data collected for Wake County, North Carolina is home to a population of 1.11M people with a median household income of $84,215. 

To paint a more precise picture, the percentage of students participating in the Free or Reduced Lunch Program in these six schools is 10 percent or less.

The only major exception is that 16 percent of those students are at or below the poverty level. 

The ethnic groups that make up Wake County, NC are White (Non-Hispanic) (59.4%), African American (Non-Hispanic) (5.22%), Asian (Non-Hispanic) (7.52%), White (Hispanic) (5.22%), and Other (Hispanic) (3.89%). The most commonly spoken languages in Wake County, NC are Chinese, Spanish, and Hindi. 

The current issues that Wake County Public School System is facing relates to accountability with building sustainable partnerships and closing the pedagogy divide with the community and stakeholders’ slow response to school choice.

The Opportunity Scholarship Grant Program happens to be the largest voucher program for the state of North Carolina, and it provides access to low-income families to opt out of their local public schools that are failing to meet the needs of their kids.

Due to the lack of resources and the misappropriation of funds, students are struggling to meet academic milestones and schools are failing students all across the state. 

Many individuals are uninformed and may not know or understand the severity of living in food-insecure communities and the roadblocks it creates for students and their education.

In the United States, home to 329.5 million people, 11 million of those represent children living in food-insecure homes.

On a national level, there are federal programs that aid but access to those resources is not reaching those families in certain communities. Universal free meals would be a more obvious solution, but the dialog only goes as far as placing limits on how children are educated by restricting access to school choice and inadvertently redlining through redistricting. 

Wake County Public School students have experienced student reassignments more than they have been able to become fully acclimated with a consistent educational structure. 

School choice eliminates those inconsistent reassignments and enables families to send their children to schools that are available and present to inspire and equip them for success. North Carolina has grown exponentially in the past decade, and the need for more schools is also growing each year.

Because North Carolina offers a variety of learning environments that range from homeschools, learning pods, public charter schools, online academies, public magnet schools, private schools, traditional public schools, parents are able to eliminate the current roadblocks in North Carolina pedagogy through school choice. 

As an educator, I feel more comfortable advocating for school choice to become a permanent fixture for families in North Carolina than debating on whether raising property taxes to support educator salaries is another roadblock disenfranchising student access to an adequate and appropriate education.

I can not effectively perform my role as an educator in a system that cannot even adequately support its current infrastructure.

School choice not only gives students the option for a better education, but it also provides an avenue for educators like me to really make an impact and change the dialog on pedagogy in the 21st century.  

Jamial Black is Elementary Site Coordinator for Avent West Children’s Mentoring. He is a 2022 AAEF Advocacy Fellow dedicated to closing the educational divide.