National School Choice Week: Celebrating Educational Options — and the Pursuit of Happiness — for Every Parent and Student
When contemplating the concept of school choice, what immediately comes to mind? Is it the improvement in academic performance, graduation rates, or efforts to accommodate the needs of parents? Is it the policies, programs, or the establishment of accountability measures?
When attending educational conferences or participating in panel discussions, these topics are frequently discussed and rightfully so. However, one aspect that is often overlooked is the importance of happiness.
Throughout my travels in 2017, wherein I visited 25 states and engaged with parents, educators, and students, the concept of happiness was a recurring theme. These individuals play a crucial role in making National School Choice Week impactful year after year.
What I discovered is that parents fundamentally care about school choice because they desire their children’s happiness. They comprehend that a safe and secure school environment, free from violence and bullying, contributes to their children’s happiness. They recognize that when a school inspires and motivates their children to learn, their potential for happiness becomes significantly greater. Moreover, parents understand that when their children feel respected and valued in school, it fosters self-respect and ultimately leads to a higher probability of happiness.
When students are happier, they are empowered to face academic challenges and are more likely to acquire knowledge. Happiness is not just a matter of policy, but a basic human need that everyone can relate to.
The founders of our country recognized this fundamental need. Even 242 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, the pursuit of happiness remains a timeless American ideal.
During National School Choice Week, we wholeheartedly embrace this ideal. We aim to inform parents of the various educational options available to their children by shedding a positive light on different learning environments. These environments will encourage children to pursue their own happiness and enjoy their educational journey.
We celebrate and include all educational choices for all students, ranging from traditional district schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
To raise awareness for this cause, we encourage schools, homeschooling groups, community organizations, and individuals to host open houses, school fairs, information sessions, and even large rallies that draw attention to the exceptional work taking place in our communities.
What initially began with 150 events in 2011 has now grown to an astounding 32,240 events and activities nationwide in 2018.
If you attend any of these events, you will have the opportunity to hear parents sharing their stories about school choice and how they are actively pursuing happiness for their children.
Countless stories like these exist, but one, in particular, comes to mind: the story of a student who experienced bullying in two different schools. The situation became untenable, causing immense unhappiness, and he was treated unfairly. Fortunately, his parents discovered a homeschooling program, which enabled him to leave this toxic environment behind. Within months, he discovered new educational interests, engaged in extracurricular activities such as journalism and video creation, and even developed a passion for football, receiving guidance from a coach. Most importantly, he found true happiness.
Stories like these are plentiful and highlight the immense opportunity and magic that school choice offers in America today.