The Real Meaning of School Choice

By: Andrew Campanella

National School Choice Week 2017 begins in just one week.

With 21,392 events across America, National School Choice Week will be the largest celebration of educational opportunity in world history.

And in 2017, National School Choice Week could not come at a more perfect time.

From leaders in Washington, to governors, to local town councils, school choice is on the agenda and on people’s minds.

But what is school choice, and what’s the goal of this broad and diverse movement?

To me, and to the millions of people celebrating National School Choice Week, January 22–28, school choice means empowering parents to select the best K-12 education options for their children — while not giving preference to, or denigrating, any of the different types of choices parents can make.

In the days leading up to National School Choice Week, which starts on January 22, I’ll be sharing my personal perspective on why the discussion on school choice in America needs to embrace, equally, all six types of education options that parents have, or want to have, for their children.

These options are traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, online academies, private schools, and homeschooling.

My writings will not be focused on policy, but instead, on personal experiences.

For the past five years, I have had the privilege of serving as president of National School Choice Week. In this role, I have worked, full time and year round, with schools of all types. I’ve visited hundreds of schools, and talked with tens of thousands of teachers, administrators, and parents.

This work is inspiring. It’s uplifting. It’s motivating. And frankly, I’m lucky, because it often doesn’t feel like work.

These five years have left me more convinced than ever that expanding access, for families, to a variety of different K-12 education options, can change lives.

This experience has also convinced me that the old debates over school choice — in which public education was pitted against other types of education environments — are, on the ground and in many states and communities, fading away. The acrimony of the past is being replaced by a new reality, one in which teachers and parents from all different settings work together, collaboratively, to advance student success.

This is a good thing for America. In fact, it’s something to celebrate.

Learn more about National School Choice Week’s President, Andrew Campanella, in President’s Corner.

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