Utah students, parents, and educators will join in a national celebration Jan. 25-31, 2015 to recognize school choice. Participants in the 2015 National School Choice Week are hoping to encourage communities to look at different ways of helping to educate today's youth.
Early Monday morning Andrew Campanella, President of the non-profit organization National School Choice Week, rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchanging to mark the official beginning of the celebration.
“The goal of this bell ringing is to help accomplish our overall goals which is to raise awareness about school choice and education options so parents will know what choices they have and that they do have choices,” he says.
Campanella is in his third year overseeing the yearly week long celebration which in 2015 includes more than eleven-thousand events across the country. Seventy of those events will take place in Utah and will include students who attend public charter schools, a private school, public magnet schools, or who take classes on-line. Students in Utah who are home schooled will also participate.
“There are folks out there who reflectively think that the term school choice is somehow at odds with one type of school or another,” he says. “We embrace all options for families and let these individual types of school use the week to celebrate their successes.”
This week's National School Choice Week will include the largest series of education-related events in US history and has been recognized as an official week through a vote last week by the U.S. Senate.
Utah is among states in the nation that offer Mandatory Inter-District School Choice allowing parents to send their children to different public schools, regardless of their ZIP code or school district. Other options in the state include Public Charter Schools which are free public schools that are designed to be innovative and are held accountable for results.
Public Magnet Schools are free public schools that are focused around a specific theme, such as math and science or the arts. These types of schools are usually available in more populated areas of the state. Campanella said online learning, a full-time option offered free through public schools that allows students to attend classes at home instead of in a traditional bricks-and-mortar school, is growing in popularity.
Private School Choice options include state programs that provide scholarships, tax credits, tax deductions, or school vouchers allowing parents to use a portion of the tax funds set aside for their children’s education to send their children to private schools.
Utah school choice options also include Homeschooling Freedom programs that allow parents to educate children in the home.
Some of the National School Choice Week events in Utah include free admission on Wednesday, January 28, to the Rosenbrunch Wildlife Museum in St. George.
The Utah Jazz basketball team is offering discount tickets to their game against the Golden State Warriors at the Energy Solutions Arena on Friday, Jan. 30, as part of the celebration.