SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Once upon a time, “compulsory education” meant that students and their parents had little choice in how (or even why) a student was educated — they simply went to the school nearest them in their district. Times have changed, and with it has come myriad options for public education, including a trend toward open enrollment that permits guardians to choose a school that best suits the needs of their individual student. To that end, California State Assemblyman Dante recognized the week (Jan. 21-27, 2018) in a resolution as California School Choice Week, which officially kicked off Monday.
Across the nation, governors and hundreds of city and county leaders have issued similar proclamations, with 32,000 School Choice Week-themed events taking place over the next six days.
In California, more than 2,300 events have been planned to raise awareness about educational opportunity. The rallies, roundtable discussions, coffeehouse gatherings, festivals and school fairs to engender conversation regarding educational choices (for example, readers in Los Angeles can attend a cocktail reception at the Reason Foundation with a panel discussion covering the current evidence for school choice).
“We are grateful to the California Senate for this resolution,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, in a statement. “It’s amazing to see the momentum and enthusiasm that California parents have for choice. We hope they will use this opportunity to find the best schools for their kids.”
Additionally, the counties of Glenn, Imperial and Napa, and the cities of Brentwood, Buena Park, Colton, Cupertino, Foster City, Garden Grove, Hesperia, Loma Linda, Mission Viejo, Oakdale, Oceanside, Salinas, San Jose, San Ramon, Tustin, Vallejo, Walnut Creek, Woodlake, Huntington Park, Indian Wells, Rohnert Park, San Buenaventura, Santa Clara and Thousand Oaks have likewise issued proclamations recognizing the weeklong observance in their respective communities. California’s public school open enrollment policy is one of the nation’s broadest and most accommodating and includes, among other opportunities, tuition-free online schooling (California is the nation’s tech capital after all).
“Our families know firsthand how fortunate we are to have the freedom to choose where our students go to school. Every child deserves an educational setting that best enables him or her to succeed. We support school choice,” said Michelle Goetsch, principal of First Lutheran School, a private school with 113 students from preschool to grade 8 in Glendale, Calif.
The trend toward choice reaches beyond the Golden State, of course. Florida also recently passed legislation that also provides enrollment to its state’s students. What this portends for those in education and related industries is an upswing in potential opportunities to accommodate the ever-shifting needs of districts and their student distributions.
Held every January, National School Choice Week is an independent, nonpartisan, nonpolitical public awareness effort to spotlight education options. Through thousands of independently planned events across the country, National School Choice Week raises public awareness of all types of educational choices available — from traditional public schools, public charter schools and public magnet schools to online learning, private schools and homeschooling.