NSCW is a nationwide series of events celebrating school choice and encouraging expansion of education opportunities to more children. The goal is “to raise public awareness of all types of education options for children,” the event’s website states. “These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.”
The first-ever NSCW was held in 2011 and featured 150 events in several states. The 2017 NSCW, held January 22–28, featured 21,392 events in all 50 states, with 16,000 schools and 2,000 homeschooling groups participating. More than six million people attended NSCW events this year.
President Donald Trump issued a “National School Choice Week 2017 Proclamation” on the White House website while NSCW was taking place.
“Because the education of our young people is so important, the parents of every student in America should have a right to a meaningful choice about where their child goes to school,” Trump stated in the proclamation. “By expanding school choice and providing more educational opportunities for every American family, we can help make sure that every child has an equal shot at achieving the American Dream. More choices for our students will make our schools better for everybody.”
Americans ‘Passionate’ for Choice
Michael Schaus, communications director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which took the lead in organizing an NSCW rally in Carson City, says the event’s turnout proves people are eager for school choice.
“It was a great event,” Schaus said. “Hundreds of kids, parents, and teachers showed up, despite temperatures in the 20s and low 30s. The record-breaking year for National School Choice Week underscores how passionate Americans are for choice in education. There’s a real hunger among parents for more control over their children’s educational careers.
“And it’s simple to see why: The current one-size-fits all status quo has failed students, parents, and families,” Schaus said. “As a society, we are spoiled for choice in virtually every aspect of our lives, except education.”
‘Everyone Deserves Choice’
Robert Enlow, president and CEO of EdChoice, says NSCW celebrates all kinds of education choice.
“I think its growth has been coming for a while now,” Enlow said. “You see more and more parents using more and more options. What makes the National School Choice Week great is that it doesn’t talk about one of the options; it talks about all of them. Parental options are what we are focused on, regardless if they are public, private, or charter schools. People are finding a place where they can fit in.
“Everyone deserves choice,” Enlow said. “There is this growing sense among policy makers that even folks in low income and rural America need to have some choice. You are empowering parents to customize their child’s education.”
Jennifer Brock, a public relations officer at Abington Christian Academy in Pennsylvania, says students and teachers at her school celebrated NSCW by expressing why they’re grateful for choice.
“We had a little assembly and gave the students the opportunity to talk about why they liked being at Abington Christian,” Brock said. “They [said] they really knew their teachers and their teachers really cared about them and were teaching them in an engaging way. And then the teachers were asked why they liked to teach at Abington Christian, even though they earn substantially less than they might be able to do in a public setting, and the responses were that the smaller class sizes really enable them to get to know individual students and to teach to strengths and to support weaknesses.
“One of the teachers said they get to integrate their beliefs into the classroom and to talk about the wonder of how our bodies are made and how that causes us to know God and to worship Him and to be in wonder and appreciation of the complexity of our bodies,” Brock said. “The support of being able to pray for one another and help each other was also mentioned.”
Brock says her own daughter has benefitted greatly by attending a school of choice.
“I think the thing that the current public system doesn’t provide families is the ability to choose the education that’s best for their child,” Brock said. “I have a special-needs daughter, and just speaking personally, I have taken her to the public district several times because I want to make sure she’s getting the best help that she can, and they said they can’t really touch the kind of individualized instruction that she receives at our little, tiny Christian school.
“She goes down to the children’s hospital in Philadelphia, where she got a complete neuro-psyche evaluation,” Brock said. “The psychiatrist there said, ‘Do not move her. This is incredible. What she’s getting is exactly what she needs.’ The smaller overall school environment, the attention, and just being told daily that her life has purpose, she’s loved by God, it’s the right size education for her. I have nothing but good things to say about our public district, but I really would like to see everyone have the ability to choose.”
Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“2016/17 School Choice Report Card: Comprehensive Private School Choice Program Rankings,” American Federation for Children & American Federation for Children Growth Fund, August 26, 2016: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/201617-school-choice-report-card?source=policybot