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National School Choice Week has concluded, marking the largest celebration of education reform in American history. The Week featured more than 400 events spanning every US state, attracting tens of thousands of participants and galvanizing tens of millions of Americans around the need to provide effective educational opportunities for all children.
Events included everything from rallies, to movie screenings, to roundtable meetings and town hall discussions. Everywhere from big cities to small villages, citizens from across the country used National School Choice Week to celebrate the need for, and benefits of, educational opportunities for families—including greater access to public district schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, virtual schools, private schools, and homeschooling.
The governors and state legislatures of 28 states and territories—along with US House Speaker John Boehner, several members of the US House and Senate, and the mayors of Phoenix, Las Vegas, Indianapolis and Denver—officially recognized the week, marking an unprecedented, diverse demonstration of bipartisan support for an issue often deemed intensely controversial.
“This Week demonstrated that, working together, parents and individual citizens—not special interest groups—are the single most powerful advocates for transforming our education system to focus on the people we are called to serve: the next generation of young Americans,” said Andrew Campanella, vice president of public affairs for National School Choice Week.
“We’ve seen everyone from Bill Cosby, to James Carville, to Joe Trippi, to Dick Morris, to Juan Williams, to Michelle Bernard – and so many others — stand up and strongly support the rights of parents, and that’s a good thing!”
Organizers said that National School Choice Week should be a starting point for parents, teachers, and individual citizens who seek better educational options for their children every week of the year.
According to Lisa Graham Keegan, a senior advisor to National School Choice Week and the former superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, there are five things that parents and citizens can do to immediately improve their children’s chances of success in their current schools—while researching and demanding other educational options, if necessary:
1. Research your child’s school online at www.greatschools.net and learn how your child’s school ranks in terms of academic achievement and discover what other parents have to say about the school.
2. Commit to visiting your child’s school more often and request more interaction with your child’s teachers.
3. If you are unhappy with your child’s school, find out if you can switch your child’s school by calling your local school district, your state legislators, and the state’s department of education.
4. Look into virtual and digital educational options that can augment your child’s classroom learning, at home.
5. If you think new programs should be passed to enhance parental choice, write letters to the editor and contact your state leaders by email, fax, mail, and telephone.
Keegan said that parents and citizens should also connect with local organizations in their states to demand reform 52 weeks out of the year.
“Parents are the driving force behind increasing the educational options available to children across the country,” Keegan said. “There is no doubt that parent activism is driving the expansion of school choice around the country. The more parents push, the more excellent teachers are able to develop and expand effective schools.”
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