Education

National School Choice Week offers resources for families interested in exploring their options

Posted January 21, 2021 3:30 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2021 6:40 a.m. EST

— For the past 10 years, National School Choice Week has hosted local school fairs and open house events in most every state and school district.

The pandemic has forced the organization to reach families with online resources.

Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, says the week of Jan. 25 to 29 is their big focus. He’s already noticed a higher level of interest due to concerns about how school systems adapted to the pandemic.

"Sixty-three percent of parents in a poll we recently did said they have considered or are considering finding a new or different school for their child," said Campanella.

Due to concerns about COVID-19 risks, many school systems quickly adopted emergency remote learning in the weeks leading up to their fall semester.

Campanella says the form it took was much different than how existing, full-time, online schools operate. He said, "In no full-time online school that I know of is a kid ever looking at a computer screen for six or seven straight hours. That is not a best practice."

He said that full-time online schools use off-line activities and collaborative learning options to break up the day.

Campanella says his group's website has been updated with a wider array of information resources for parents and educators, including the ability to search by state.

North Carolina’s page lists six different school choice options starting with traditional public schools. Tuition-free charter schools have become an popular choice for many families.

"You don’t have to have your kid take special tests to get into them. They have to take every student that applies, as long as there is room," said Campanella.

He says North Carolina has more public magnet schools than most other states. Each magnet program is theme based, focused on interests like math, science technology and the performing arts.

Campanella says, "Some of the best magnet schools in America are in North Carolina."

While many private schools are expensive, Campanella says some are surprisingly affordable. "This state has several programs that help provide tuition assistance for families in specific circumstances who might not be able to afford private schools," he added.

A growing number of families are choosing the home-school option. Many parent prefer to go it alone, but others organize learning in small groups of families. Campanella said, "Families are bringing their kids together in socially distanced ways to learn together."

Each state allows home schooling but with different requirements. "And if you choose to do this, there are a lot of resources out there and a lot of families that will help you out," said Campanella.

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