'National School Choice Week' Advances Message of Educational Options Available to Students

Americans United for Separation of Church and State Say Its Only About Advancing an Ideology

Supporters of school choice are organizing events across the United States in honor of an annual week to raise awareness of their cause.

National School Choice Week 2014, which kicked off Sunday, "allows participants to advance their own messages of educational opportunity, while uniting with like-minded groups and individuals across the country," reads the About section for the site.

"Participants in National School Choice believe that parents should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children. Supporters plan events that highlight a variety of school choice options – from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling."

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Organizers estimate that as many as 5,500 different events spotlighting school choice will be held nationwide this week.

These include an estimated 120 events in Georgia and over 800 events in Florida alone, with sponsoring schools including charter institutions in the South to Catholic schools in Pennsylvania.

National School Choice Week comes as many states debate the merits of expanding government support for academic institutions other than traditional public schools.

Support for school choice is often linked to support for vouchers, which allow public school students to receive government funds to attend better performing private schools in their area.

Proponents of vouchers argue that they are necessary to help reform a broken educational system and provide youth with good academic and moral instruction presently absent in public schools.

Opponents of the system argue that more investment in public education should be done instead and also take issue with possible church-and-state concerns regarding the placement of government funds into sectarian schools.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has been critical of the voucher cause, as well as the National School Choice Week observance in general.

Rob Boston of AUSCS wrote in an entry on the organization's "Wall of Separation" blog that vouchers and the School Choice Week "aren't really about choice."

"This fight long ago stopped being about improving education. We know that vouchers don't do that. This is all about ideology," wrote Boston.

"Private sectarian groups – churches that raise millions every year tax free – want to pick your pocket to pay for their schools. Some of these schools, by the way, teach some pretty wild ideas."

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