General Education

It’s National School Choice Week! Here’s What Everyone’s Celebrating

It’s National School Choice Week! Here’s What Everyone’s Celebrating
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Noodle Staff January 26, 2016

This week, parents, educators, organizations, and schools are raising awareness about school choice. More than 16,000 events can help you find out about all of the educational options that are available where you live.

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It used to be the case that families moved to a district, and their kids went to school there. Decision made.

Now, things are not always so simple — and for many families, that’s a good thing.

School choice allows families to send their children to schools other than the ones for which they’re zoned, either subsidized or free of charge. As states broaden the available school choice options, more and more families are taking advantage of the opportunity to venture outside of their districts. Some are sending their children to magnet, charter, or other public schools across town (or even in other districts), while others are taking advantage of voucher programs and tax credits to send their kids to private schools.

Expansion of School Choice

According to the Center for Education Reform, charter school enrollment is rapidly on the rise. There are currently more than 2.5 million students attending nearly 6,500 charter schools. In the past decade alone, charter school enrollment has risen by 225 percent, with the number of charter schools up by 118 percent. And the demand is stronger than ever: Since 2009, the average number of students on charter school waiting lists has increased by 44 students — with districts like New York City’s having lists with more than 50,000 students.

Similarly, the reach of voucher programs has expanded significantly in recent years. At present, more than 100,000 students, using programs across 14 states and the District of Columbia, take advantage of vouchers to attend private schools. Similarly, tax credit–funded scholarship programs help pay private school tuition for 190,000 students across the country.

Room for Growth

Still, despite these numbers, there remains healthy room for growth. There are about 50 million K–12 students in the U.S., with an expected additional 11 million kids in the next two decades. Even as school choice opportunities are becoming more widespread, fewer than about three million students avail themselves of these offerings at present. In other words, there is a lot of demand — and there is expected to be a lot more demand — but still ample opportunity to add school choice options and to ensure these are accessible to families nationwide.

National School Choice Week, January 24–30

Enter National School Choice Week. Between this past Sunday and this coming Saturday, there will have been 16,140 events across the country, all organized and paid for by their respective hosts. These range from panels to institutional open houses and share the overall aim of raising public awareness “of all types of education options for children,” including “traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.”

This awareness extends to government officials, who are also engaged in NSCW activities and events. For instance, 27 governors and more than 200 mayors and county leaders have issued proclamations recognizing School Choice Week — with many events taking place at state government buildings.

NSCW organizers also put together a booklet of School Choice Trends Across the Country{: target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” } to provide an overview of the available options nationwide. Then, to help people identify the best events for them, the NCSW website hosts pages specifically geared toward schools, organizations, and individuals.

While a few events have been changed due to winter weather conditions, most appear to be taking place as scheduled; all up-to-date information can be found on the NSCW website.

How to Get Involved

To find out more about what’s happening near you, search events by zip code.

Are you considering exercising your school choice options? Use the comprehensive Noodle K–12 school search tool to explore all of your choices — and to find the perfect fit for your child.

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