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National School Choice Week aimed at parents

Andrew R. Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and a recognized expert on education reform. CONTRIBUTED
Andrew R. Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and a recognized expert on education reform. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – National School Choice Week 2016 will involve the largest series of education-related events in U.S. history.

From Jan. 24-30, millions of Americans will raise awareness about the importance of school choice. Nationally, an unprecedented 16,140 events are planned, including 206 events in Alabama.

The week represents the largest celebration of opportunity for education in U.S. history, Andrew R. Campanella said. He is president of National School Choice Week and a recognized expert on education reform.

“When it comes to K-12 education, America’s parents want more choices,” Campanella said. “In fact, almost two-thirds of parents or 64 percent say they wish they had more options for their children’s education.”

In Alabama and many other states, lawmakers have taken action to provide a more diverse variety of school choices for families. Alabama families have six options in education choices available to their children, Campanella said.

Open enrollment, or public school choice, accommodates the huge majority of Alabama children. “The state allows parents, with some limitations, to choose traditional public schools outside of their existing school zones,” he said.

Another option, public charter schools are tuition-free public schools with freedom for more innovation. Magnet schools also exist and focus on disciplines like math, science, technology and the performing arts.

“In addition, Alabama is one of 41 states with a tuition-free online academy, allowing students to go to school entirely online,” Campanella said.

Alabama parents can opt for private schools. “The state offers assistance, either in the form of scholarships or tax deductions, to qualifying families,” he said.

“Finally, parents have the freedom to educate their children in the home. More parents are home-schooling their children than ever before,” Campanella said.

Families can use National School Choice Week as an opportunity to visit schools, ask lots of questions of teachers and administrators and talk with other parents to find an education option that may be a better fit.

When parents exercise choice, high school graduation rates increase, he said.

For more information, visit schoolchoiceweek.com.

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