- - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Across the country, people have spent the last few weeks coming up with New Year’s resolutions that will stick.

After all, the goal of a New Year’s resolution is to do something, or do something differently, to positively benefit one’s life in the months and years ahead. The start of the new year feels like a blank slate, one that we want to fill with positive and beneficial memories, experiences, traditions and habits.

Despite these best intentions, public opinion surveys report that the majority of Americans abandon their New Year’s resolutions by the summer — with about 25 percent of people forgetting about their promises within just two weeks.

What type of New Year’s resolution could actually stick for 2016?

Perhaps ones that involve the well-being of the entire family.

For parents and children, the dawn of a new year marks a time when parents can resolve to evaluate the quality of K-12 education that their children are receiving, and to consider the education options available to them.

Parents can use January to ask themselves and their children if the schools their kids attend are meeting their expectations.

For example: Are your children learning? Do your children feel safe at school? Does the staff at your child’s school encourage, rather than rebuff, parent involvement?

These questions are just the tip of the inquisitive iceberg. But if the answer to those questions is “no,” or even if there is hesitation, it may be time for parents to start considering different education options available for their kids.

To put it plainly: it might be time for moms and dads to look into sending their children to a different school or considering another route, such as home schooling.

At first consideration, January might seem too early for moms and dads to start looking at new schools for their children for the upcoming school year.

It is actually the perfect time to start a school search. In fact, many schools are already filling seats for the 2016-17 school year. Waiting too long can significantly limit the options available to families.

What options do parents have when it comes to the education of their children?

School choice varies by state. But by and large, parents in America today have more choices for their children’s education than ever before.

Across the country, many states have expanded the education options available to children and families, and many of the choices available to families are entirely tuition-free.

For example, 46 states now allow parents to send their children to traditional public schools outside of the traditional geographic boundaries, or zones, for schools. Public charter schools are available in 43 states, and public magnet schools — which focus on a specific theme, such as math, science or the arts — are available nationwide. In 41 states, parents can enroll their children in full-time online academies.

Access to private, K-12 schools has also expanded. In 27 states, parents have access to programs that provide either private school scholarships or allow parents to deduct the cost of private school tuition from their state income taxes.

Of course, parents across the country have the freedom to educate their children in the home. With new advancements in technology, homeschooling has become more feasible for many families than it was just a decade ago.

The point is this: Many parents have more options than they originally thought.

Later this month, students, parents, teachers and people from across the country will celebrate National School Choice Week (Jan. 24-30). With more than 15,500 events in communities throughout America, National School Choice Week will be the world’s largest-ever celebration of opportunity in education.

For parents, National School Choice Week is the perfect opportunity to make good on a New Year’s resolution to evaluate the quality of your children’s education and search for new schools.

During the week, parents can research their options, visit schools, attend open houses planned during the week, and talk with principals and teachers.

It can be the start of honoring a New Year’s resolution that does not just last weeks or months, but has positive benefits that last for decades.

Andrew R. Campanella is president of National School Choice Week.


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