Guest Opinions

During National School Choice Week, be thankful we have education options

Andrew Campanella
Andrew Campanella

Is it important to you that your son or daughter learns a second language in school?

Maybe. Maybe not.

What about uniforms? Do you think they create a better learning environment? Are they too stifling?

Or music? Do you want your son or daughter to play in a band or orchestra?

How about religion? Is there a specific faith you want to pass down to your children? Or maybe you’d prefer that they be raised without religion.

Do you think your children will learn best in a single-sex environment, or is it better to mix the boys and girls in the same class?

Whatever your answers, you can be confident that thousands of other Americans would answer them differently.

And that’s part of what makes America, and Idaho, so great. We are not the same, and we can benefit from our differences. I know I’m personally grateful for the friends, colleagues and associates whose perspectives on the world are not like mine. They enrich my life by challenging me to think outside my box.

Because diversity is such a strength of our country, it’s important for us to preserve and celebrate that diversity.

What does that mean for our schools?

It means we shouldn’t ask them to be everything for everyone. With focused budgets and resources, not every school can provide everything. But even with unlimited budgets and a full staff of excellent teachers, no school can meet the unique needs of every single family.

That’s why school choice is so important. It empowers parents to find schools that work for them and their families. In environments where school choice is flourishing, parents are even empowered to found their own schools and help other families, too.

Here in Idaho, there are plenty of educational options, including open enrollment, charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning and home schooling.

From the beginning, America has been a richly diverse country, weaving together the similarities and differences of many different cultures into a beautiful fabric. There are as many ways to be American as there are Americans, and even those born in the same country — or same city — have different ways of living. Our desire for variety in education reflects that.

Today’s kids, educated in different kinds of schools — with or without uniforms, religion, second languages, music or whatever else — will bring to tomorrow’s positions of leadership not monotony or sameness, but a deeply diverse and crucially varied set of experiences.

What better way to promote that diversity than to celebrate National School Choice Week (Jan. 20-26) — and the diversity of education it inspires?

Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week.