(by Shelby Doyle) - Parents across the country are seriously rethinking what they and their children need when it comes to K-12 education. From considering switching to new schools to using tutoring, or out-of-school co-ops and learning pods, parents are getting creative. While some might have expected the pace of change and exploration to slow down after two long years of learning disruptions, parents remain motivated and curious about ways to make sure their child is learning and progressing.
In a survey conducted this month by the National School Choice Awareness Foundation, 53.7 percent of parents said they had considered in the last year, or were currently considering, choosing a new or different school for their child. And 86.1 percent of them are concerned about their child's academic progress.
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For parents wanting to find a new school, this is the best time of the year to start the process. It's National School Choice Week January 22 through 28, and the news media, school leaders, teachers, and parents across the country are talking about education options. Parents can research their options at schoolchoiceweek.com and attend community events designed to help them choose.
January's not an arbitrary time for the Week to fall. It's a time when these decisions for the fall come to a head. Many enrollment deadlines fall in the winter months, no matter how far away they feel from the coming August. With the first half of the school year completed, families start to have a clearer idea of whether they need to make a change.
Dozens of states around the country in the last few years have expanded educational opportunities for parents to choose traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, or homeschooling. Families can benefit from checking in to see if the landscape of options in their community have changed.
If you want to help spread the word about educational opportunity this week, here are some ideas. First, start a conversation with your child about what they like about school and what they wish were different. Second, learn more about educational options, or share that information with a friend. Third, show appreciation for the school(s) you've chosen by volunteering or saying thank you to a teacher this week.
Every parent, student, teacher, and community leader who is celebrating National School Choice Week proudly supports and empowers families to choose the right educational fit for their child. Will you join them?
Shelby Doyle is the vice president of public awareness at the National School Choice Awareness Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that hosts National School Choice Week each January and maintains the nation’s largest online portfolio of English- and Spanish-language school navigation resources.