5 Reasons National School Choice Week Keeps Growing

Teresa Mull,

Evidence shows school choice—or, as it should be called, “education freedom”—has obvious benefits for society. The expansion of National School Choice Week (NSCW)—the celebration created to spotlight the successes of school choice—is a testament to the movement’s positive effect on our nation.

The concept of school choice is really simple: Every child, regardless of where he or she lives, how much money the child’s parent makes, etc., should have access to the educational opportunities parents deem best. Proponents of education freedom rightfully acknowledge every child is unique, and rather than force children into a one-size-fits-all classroom, they should instead be free to explore educational options that better cater to their diverse needs.

This is NSCW’s 10th year, and the event keeps getting bigger. “An estimated 13.7 million Americans will participate in National School Choice Week events and activities,” the NSCW website reports. “Starting on January 26, schools, organizations, homeschool groups and individuals will hold a record-breaking 51,300 independently planned events and activities to raise awareness of opportunity in K-12 education.”

With all of the success NSCW had had in recent years, it’s amazing anyone still opposes education freedom.

Here are five reasons (out of thousands!) why NSCW keeps breaking records:

1. NSCW Does Not Discriminate

Teachers unions love to say school choice proponents are “anti-public schools” and out to “steal money from local public schools.” This is absolutely not true. As the NSCW website clearly states, the movement is about “empowering parents and helping children achieve their dreams.” That means promoting family access “to the K–12 educational options that best fit their children. These options include all forms of education, from traditional public schools, to public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.”

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Yes, even traditional public schools.

Education freedom proponents want parents to be in charge of deciding where and how their children learn. If parents deem traditional public schools to be the best choice, then go for it!

2. School Choice Raises the Bar for Everyone

Competition is a natural and healthy aspect of life, and when it comes to education, it’s no different. Tim Keller, writing for the HomeRoom blog, reports, “There is … abundant evidence that school choice programs encourage traditional public schools to improve. Indeed, there have been at least 33 empirical studies of the effects of educational choice programs on public schools. The overwhelming majority—31—have found that choice programs have a positive effect on public schools.”

3. School Choice Helps Alleviate Desegregation

Laws mandating that children attend the schools closest to where they live are unfair and discriminatory. School choice options, on the other hand, enable kids from poverty-stricken neighborhoods, often rife with drugs and violence, the chance to escape to an environment that’s safer and better conditioned for learning.

EdChoice.org reports, “School choice is designed to help all children, regardless of their income or neighborhood. The ZIP Code-based public education system has kept low-income kids out of quality schools, and studies have shown it also has contributed to—nay, exacerbated—socioeconomic segregation in public schools for decades. Every study of school voucher programs, on the other hand, shows they help students go from more segregated schools to more integrated schools.”

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4. School Choice Encourages Innovation

School choice embraces the differences inherent in each child and offers an educational experience that satisfies every student’s needs, interests, and skills. For example, some children are naturally gifted in learning math, science, and engineering. There’s a school of choice for that!

Similarly, some children learn better through interactive methods, while others are much better at learning online. Some children may want to venture into the liberal arts, to learn Latin and a classical curriculum, while others may prefer to travel the world and be educated by their parents while they explore.

There’s no end to the ways in which educators can innovate when they’re granted the freedom to accommodate every child and family. School choice broadens the world of education and improves it through invention.

5. School Choice Makes Families Happier

The satisfaction and happiness of parents and their children should be the primary focus of education reform, because when children are safe, motivated, and learning, their parents are satisfied, and families—and society as a whole—thrive.

Education choice has myriad advantages, all of which can be summed up by reading NSCW’s Happiness Blog, where families tell their personal stories about how school choice has transformed their lives.

Teresa Mull (tmull@heartland.org) is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute and editor of gunpowdermagazine.com.