(Photo: Reuters/Tami Chappell/Handout)
For the third annual National School Choice Week, Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, over 3,600 events across the country promote the idea that empowering parents to send their kids to the school of their choice is the best way to improve the nation's education system.
School choice proponents argue that parents should be given vouchers that would allow them to place their children in whichever public or private school they choose. They believe that making schools compete for voucher dollars will encourage schools to improve their services, much like companies in a free market must work to offer the best product at the best price to get customers to buy their product.
Most school choice reforms have so far been aimed at low income and learning disabled students. School choice reformers have been trying to expand these programs, though, so that middle income families will also be able to take their kids out of failing schools and provide them with an education that best reflects their own needs and values.
Opponents of school choice worry that the reforms will weaken public education by shifting money from public to private institutions and they claim that the private schools would cherry pick the best students, leaving the most challenging students in the public schools. School choice reforms usually, though, include provisions that prevent cherry picking.
Besides the events sponsored all over the country from partner groups, National School Choice Week has a "whistle-stop" train tour traveling from Los Angeles to New York all week. On Thursday, it will be in Toledo, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; and Erie, Pa.