Over the last thirteen years, I’ve had the honor of working with tens of thousands of schools in the planning and promotion of their National School Choice Week events and activities. Sometimes, people seem surprised when I tell them just how many schools and homeschool groups who register to celebrate the Week. Yes, there really are more than 23,000 of them celebrating with us January 22-28, 2023 and nearly 1,500 of them have worked directly with our team for the better part of a year to plan even larger NSCW events (or series’ of events) in their communities.
Why do these traditional public schools (7,975 of them), public charter schools (4,659 of them), public magnet schools (761 of them), private schools (7,479 of them) plus hundreds of online learning options, homeschool groups, microschools, and learning pods all make such a fuss over the Week?
The simple answer is that it’s fun and it’s effective. Students dance and reflect on their parent’s choice of school for them and their gratitude for their teachers and leaders. Parents raise their voices to support school choice and help others who are just getting started. Teachers lead their students in activities that bring their classroom closer: decorating it with their reasons for being there, and the things they’re grateful for. School leaders take time to thank the parents who choose their schools, the staff and teachers who make it great, and the students who inspire them to excellence.
To put it in perspective, here are some fast facts:
- 16.3 percent of all regular K-12 public and private schools, including 13.7 percent of public schools and 24.5 percent of private schools, are participating in NSCW 2023.
- 8.79 million students attend schools that will participate in NSCW 2023, an increase of 19.5 percent over the number of students attending NSCW-participating schools in 2022.
- 15.6 percent of U.S. students attend regular K-12 public or private schools that will participate.
- 2,413 counties, or 76.8 percent of all counties across the U.S., are home to a school that will participate in NSCW 2023.
- 14.3 percent of NSCW-participating K-12 schools are located in geographic areas where the median household income is 150 percent or less of the HHS Federal Poverty Guideline; comparatively, 10.3 percent of all U.S. K-12 schools are located in such geographic areas.
- 26.9 percent of NSCW-participating K-12 schools are located in geographic areas where nonwhite residents comprise more than 50 percent of the total population; comparatively, 19.1 percent of all U.S. K-12 schools are located in such geographic areas.
I am grateful to each of the schools who choose to celebrate National School Choice Week. The Week would not impact parents and students on a practical, local level without their leadership. I’m proud that despite the increased division and polarization in our nation over the last thirteen years, we have always had robust and balanced involvement from every type of school that families choose in this country. And I am so, so excited to see their hard work come to fruition in just a few short weeks.