An unprecedented 16,104 events are scheduled across the country for National School Choice Week, which began Monday even as some schools were closed due to snow.
A record 32 governors and 240 mayors and county leaders issued official proclamations recognizing the week of Jan. 24-30 as School Choice Week, which is designed to spotlight educational options for schoolchildren.
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"The goal of National School Choice Week is to raise awareness among parents that when it comes to their children’s K-12 education, they have options," Andrew R. Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, said in a statement.
"National School Choice Week also provides an opportunity for people who believe that parents should have more options for their kids to have their voices heard. We are grateful that so many students, parents, teachers, schools, organizations, and elected officials are joining us in this positive week of events, activities, and celebrations," Campanella said.
Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said in a statement that this year marks a milestone in school choice: the 25th anniversary of the passage of the first charter school law.
"This week, individuals, families, schools, and education organizations unite to celebrate and demand school choice. During National School Choice Week, we recognize the growing number of families who have options for their children’s education. We also commit ourselves to work on behalf of the millions of students still waiting for that choice," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, in a release.
"School choice support continues to grow across the country, with the passage of ESA legislation in Nevada and a charter school law in Alabama in the last year," said Shelby Tankersley. "Last year, 11,032 events took place around the country for National School Choice Week and this year, more than 16,141 are being planned."
According to a recent NAPC report, 43 states—most recently Alabama in 2015—have enacted public charter school laws. However, Rees said much remains to be accomplished.
"We have much more work to do to create enough opportunities for students nationwide," Rees said.
Prominent lawmakers have registered their support for school choice this week.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) released a video on Monday calling school choice "the civil rights issue of the 21st Century."
"It shouldn’t matter what your race or ethnicity or zip code is. Every single child deserves an opportunity to achieve the very best," Cruz said.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R.) tweeted, "We're committed to opening doors of opportunity so that every parent can choose the best school for their kids."
Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) vowed to continue fighting for school choice programs in his state.
"While there were many victories for school choice in 2015, these programs continue to face opposition at the expense of students' best interests. I will continue to advocate and fight for school choice programs in Wisconsin and across the nation," Johnson said in a statement.
Opponents of school choice have used this week to express their views. One opponent, the D.C.-based Center for Inquiry, urged the public to call members of Congress and tell them they oppose school voucher programs..
Arizona has emerged as the leader in school choice, according to National School Choice Week. It has 612 events planned throughout the week, capped by a rally on Friday at the state capitol.