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National School Choice Week helps parents understand options

Updated: Jan. 25, 2021 at 5:58 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - This week is National School Choice Week to make sure parents understand all of the options available for their children’s k-through-12 education.

Just 10 Years after National School Choice Week launched, its President, Andrew Campanella, can see how the week makes a difference in Alabama.

“Alabama has come a really long way when it comes to school choice. And parents across the state have more options for their kids now than at any other time in history,” Campanella said. “When we asked parents to describe the school search process, in two words, the first two words they said were stressful and overwhelming. And the reality is that for too long, the process of looking for a school for your child has focused on the school’s themselves and not as much on your own child.

Campanella said it really should be about focusing on what your child needs, what your goals are for your child, and what you need and want from a school.

“What we at school choice week do is trying to take the stress and the feeling that this process is overwhelming away from the process by providing resources, state school choice roadmaps, and school search functions on our website to parents,” Campanella said.

National School Choice Week has had to adjust with the Pandemic. There will be no rallies this year or school fairs, but the pandemic has opened new questions and parents’ new options.

“Education has been upended over the last year because of COVID,” Campanella explained. “So we’re seeing families innovate, they’re coming up with things called Learning pods, where kids in a community stay socially distance, but go to one student’s house, and they do the online learning together. Or we’re seeing families choose to switch their kids to full-time online school, which is a totally different thing than this emergency remote learning.

And still, Campanella said other parents are choosing to unenroll their kids from their existing schools and become full-time homeschoolers, which means they direct every aspect of their child’s education.

“I’ve talked to so many parents who have said that before this pandemic, they were perfectly happy with their child’s school and their child’s education,” Campanella added.

Campanella sees some positives that have come out of the pandemic for parents looking for options.

“Well, there are two things that have come out of this year that is actually promising. The first thing is every parent across this country has been forced to be more involved, engaged, and empowered, relating to their kid’s education because they didn’t have a choice, the pandemic required it. That’s number one. As a result of that, I think we’re going to see parents remain engaged and involved. The second thing we’re seeing is as a result of the challenges we’re going through now. More parents are interested in their school choice options than ever before.

Campanella said she encourages parents to help spread the word about school choice in Alabama and across the country to other families.

“Use social media, send emails and texts to your friends. We won’t be able to replace the rallies and the school fairs and the celebrations that we’ve had in years past, but we can communicate in different ways and get this message across,” Campanella added. “The reality is families need to start the process of looking for new schools for their kids if they want to make a change for the next school year right now. Because if you start the process now, you’ll find you have more choices as opposed to waiting until summer break.”

The RSA Tower downtown Montgomery will be lit red and white Monday night to celebrate National School Choice Week.

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