New Year, Same Mission: National School Choice Week is Here

Daniel Doherty
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Posted: Jan 26, 2015 3:45 PM
New Year, Same Mission: National School Choice Week is Here

National School Choice Week began yesterday. Here’s why it’s important:

National School Choice Week provides an unprecedented opportunity, every January, to shine a positive spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children.

Independently planned by a diverse and growing coalition of individuals, schools, and organizations, National School Choice Week features thousands of unique events and activities across the country. The Week allows participants to advance their own messages of educational opportunity, while uniting with like-minded groups and individuals across the country.

The National School Choice Week official website asserts that some “22 governors and 49 mayors issued proclamations recognizing School Choice Week" in 2014. Put another way, nearly half of the nation’s state chief executives last year committed themselves to improving educational outcomes by pushing school choice. And that number may be growing: Governors from as disparate and far-off places as Iowa, Nebraska, Georgia, and New Mexico have already publicly affirmed their support for the movement this year.

Such high levels of support across the country suggest that the movement can no longer be ignored (or dismissed) as it reaches more struggling families; indeed, a brand new poll finds public support for the school choice movement is off the charts:

The American Federation for Children (AFC), the nation’s voice for educational choice, today released the findings of a new national poll conducted by Democratic polling firm Beck Research showing that nearly 70 percent of Americans support school choice. The poll comes on the eve of National School Choice Week and one year before the first votes are cast in the 2016 Presidential race.

“The findings of this poll reflect what we saw in the 2014 midterms and what I am seeing in communities across the country – a demand from parents for more options in deciding how their children are educated,” said Kevin Chavous, AFC’s executive counsel. “Educational choice through opportunity scholarships and charter schools provide these options. As communities from New Orleans to Milwaukee to Miami have learned, educational choice is an immediate solution for parents who have children trapped in underperforming schools. Americans overwhelmingly believe that a ZIP code should not dictate a child’s future.”

The movement has also benefited in the past from hall-of-famers and actors taking up the cause of reform -- demonstrating that school choice is broadly popular and thus transcends partisan politics. Astonishingly, there are an unprecedented number of school choice-related events scheduled nationwide over the coming days.

I’ll leave you with two items: This must-read op-ed by Allen West and Rich Thompson stressing the importance of expanding school choice in places like Georgia and other states, and the late great Milton Friedman making the case for school vouchers some years ago. Enjoy: