Over 8,000 schools are expected to participate in this year’s National School Choice Week 2015.
The high number of schools participating all over the country reflects an increase in momentum for the school choice movement. Educators, parents and students at schools across the country begin to plan special events in honor of the “largest celebration of educational opportunity in American history.”
Each event held by public, private, magnet, charter, online and home schools will feature a unique strength of each participating school.
“National School Choice Week is celebrated in thousands of different ways around the country, but one common theme is present in each event – a positive spotlight on the success stories made possible by education options,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week.
Held from January 25 – 31, the week will kick off with a rally of students, educators and supporters of school choice at Jacksonsville’s Florida Theater. Campanella said Florida makes the most sense as the spot to begin the week of festivities, as about 1.5 million students in the state choose their schools and one in four public schools in the state are either a magnet or charter school.
“We wanted to recognize the tremendous success story of school choice in the Sunshine State by hosting the first event of National School Choice Week 2015 in Florida,” he said.
Florida is home to 1,200 schools out of the 8,500 that are already planning National School Choice Week events for next year, with over 100 of those schools located in Jacksonville. Jacksonville’s mayor, Alvin Brown, was one of two mayors, both from major cities in the state, to issue proclamations in support of the event last year.
Since its inception in 2011, the week celebrating school choice has continued to grow through school choice programs popping up throughout the country, as well as an increase in acknowledgement by many public schools that they are in fact part of the movement. The continued growth has even drawn the attention of top politicians and celebrities, though this year’s VIP list for the week has yet to be announced.
The event in Florida will be broadcast on national TV for the first time ever. In addition, the event will be connected to other celebrations going on across the country through a satellite feed.
According to Lisa Graham Keegan, a senior adviser for National School Choice Week who was previously the state schools superintendent in Arizona, said the events are meant to act as “parties” where politics do not play a role.
“This is really a safe space,” she said. “It’s not about the battles it takes to get school choice. It’s just about school choice” — and celebrating students’ achievements.
Campanella said the goal of the event is to shed a positive light on schools across the country in the hopes that even more will participate even if they do not support many of the options of school choice.
“We’re trying to get people together to celebrate around the basics: That when parents have the power to choose the best schools for their kids, good things happen,” he said. “Kids learn at higher levels, they graduate at higher levels, they’re more prepared for life. Everyone benefits.”
Schools may sign up to participate in National School Choice Week through December 12, 2014, with events taking place the week of January 25, 2015.