National Grassroots Campaign Begins

Published January 1, 2009

The Alliance for School Choice has launched its School Choice Works campaign, aimed at recruiting 10,000 school choice supporters in key battleground states across the nation.

In the first two days, 1,600 people registered on the campaign Web site, said Andrew Campanella, School Choice Works’ national campaign director.

“School choice is a movement, but it’s also a highly personal issue,” Campanella said. “The reason we need to get parents involved and speak to them directly is, when a parent chooses a school for the child, they’re not just doing it because it’s a movement. They want their children to have a better life. I can’t think of something more important for a parent.”

Rallying Cry

The School Choice Works Web site will feature families’ stories about school choice. The alliance is using information gathered on the site since its November 11 launch to create a campaign that works on both the state and national level.

Supporters receive a booklet, a bumper sticker, and frequent information from the alliance and its state partners about how they can promote and defend school choice, Campanella said.

Supporters also will get e-mails or mailings about events or actions they can take and will be urged to write to legislators or the media.

The School Choice Works campaign recruits supporters through radio, television, and newspaper interviews. It also launched an Internet advertising campaign targeting 11 states. In addition, state organizations are helping point parents toward School Choice Works.

“This is providing an avenue for ordinary citizens who want to get involved to do so,” Campanella said.

State Strategies

Chad Aldis, executive director of School Choice Ohio, is helping rally supporters to the group. He said once his staff heard about the national movement, they were excited to participate. No one has ever organized people nationally for school choice, he said.

“Often, school choice is very much about individual families, so unfortunately, the parents have not always pulled together as a unified group,” Aldis said. “Having something to get them all on the same page with this effort will make it easier.”

Aldis said he anticipates 1,000 to 2,000 Ohioans will join the campaign.

Grassroots Units

In Pennsylvania, the school choice advocacy group Road to Educational Freedom through Choice (REACH) is participating. Executive Director Andrew LeFevre said he hopes it will help school choice supporters across the country take a larger view of the issues and help state organizations share ideas and effective strategies.

“National campaigns kind of act as connectors, help folks not have to reinvent the wheel,” LeFevre said. “We’re trying to find ways to help parents who don’t have the economic means to find ways to find the best choice for their children.

“What we are hoping to get out of this is a couple more thousand people in Pennsylvania who have a better understanding of how they can get plugged into REACH and as a bigger, national movement, help bring school choice to everyone in the nation,” LeFevre added.

Campanella said grassroots involvement on the local or state level is crucial in the fight for school choice.

“We cannot effectively communicate the need for school choice and the want for school choice from the tenth floor of a building in Washington,” Campanella said. “The message needs to come from the parents.”

Jillian Melchior ([email protected]) writes from Michigan.

For more information …

School Choice Works Web site: