Celebrating Education Choice
“Held every January, [NSCW] shines a spotlight on effective education options for children,” the NSCW website states. “During NSCW, schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals plan tens of thousands of independent events. These celebratory events raise public awareness of the different K-12 education options available to children and families, while spotlighting the benefits of school choice.
“NSCW recognizes all K-12 options, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling,” the website further states. “Started in 2011, NSCW is now the world’s largest annual celebration of opportunity in education. Over the past seven years, there have been more than 58,000 NSCW events planned across the country and around the world.”
Records, Presidential Prestige
An estimated 6.7 million NSCW participants took part in more than 32,000 events nationwide throughout the week of January 21-27, 2018. NSCW 2017 featured 21,392 events. President Trump proclaimed National School Choice Week on January 22.
“School choice helps alleviate common hindrances to success and creates the space necessary for students’ aspirations to flourish,” Trump announced in a statement on the White House website in January. “Families that participate in school choice programs are not the only ones who benefit from expanded educational options. Children in traditional public schools benefit as well. In fact, 29 of the top 31 empirical studies on the topic find that freedom of school choice improves the performance of nearby public schools.
“My Administration is refocusing education policy on students,” the statement further said. “We are committed to empowering those most affected by school choice decisions and best suited to direct taxpayer resources, including States, local school boards, and families. … By giving parents more control over their children’s education, we are making strides toward a future of unprecedented educational attainment and freedom of choice. Under the leadership of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, we will continue to advance school choice so that every child in America has access to the tools best suited to enabling them to achieve the American Dream.
“During National School Choice Week, I encourage parents to explore innovative educational alternatives, and I challenge students to dream big and work hard for the futures they deserve,” the statement said. “I also urge State and Federal lawmakers to embrace school choice and enact policies that empower families and strengthen communities.”
‘Reflects Increased Awareness’
Shelby Doyle, director of communications and external relations for NSCW, says the event covers all bases of education choice.
“Nearly seven million Americans [celebrate] National School Choice Week … at 32,240 independently planned events,” Doyle said. “Now in its eighth year, the week has grown exponentially from 150 events in 2011 to tens of thousands. This growth reflects the increased awareness among families and school leaders that choice in education applies to all sectors: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, online academies, private schools, and home education.
“As choice options continue to expand, parents can use the week to talk with their children about what school option would be best for next year,” Doyle said. “Families can tour schools or attend open houses. Community leaders can highlight the need for increased school choice to make sure every child has access to the right school for them.”
‘Just the Beginning’
Ellen Weaver, president and CEO of the Palmetto Promise Institute, says NSCW encourages parents to explore educational opportunities for their children.
“School Choice Week is really just the beginning of the conversation,” Weaver said. “It’s a wonderful open door that invites parents in to learn more about the many options currently available for their children. And where options aren’t available, it is a perfect chance to empower them with the information and strategies they need to fight to change that reality and create new opportunities for their children and community.”
Teresa Mull ([email protected]) is a research fellow in education policy at The Heartland Institute.
Teresa Mull, “Why National School Choice Week Is Bigger Than Ever,” The Heartland Institute, January 18, 2018: https://heartland.org/multimedia/podcasts/why-national-school-choice-week-is-bigger-than-ever