We celebrated School Choice last week, now let’s work on expanding it

Last week over 40,500 independently-planned events and activities occurred across the country in celebration of National School Choice Week (January 20-26).

Minnesota’s own celebrations included a record-breaking 518 events and activities across the state. One event took place at Minnesota’s state capitol building, where messages of choice and empowerment echoed throughout the Rotunda.

Numerous students, parents, and school partners rallied together to make their voices heard on why school choice is a vital part of education and should be expanded in Minnesota. Several students from public and private schools shared personal stories on how school choice has helped better prepare them to be tomorrow’s leaders.

While there are a variety of school choice options for families to choose from—traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling—the state can do more to make these options more accessible for more families.

Minnesota pioneered a model for the rest of the country to follow in 1991 when it passed the nation’s first charter school law, but the state cannot live on past success.

We continue to have one of the worst education achievement gaps in the country, and we need more breakthrough in our provision of education services to address our educational challenges. Expanding education tax credits so they can be used toward private school tuition would be an excellent start.

If a private school setting is the learning environment a student needs to be the most successful, financial constraints should not prevent the student from accessing that education.

Our students deserve access to an excellent education that best meets their needs, and they deserve representatives and senators who will stand up and support those needs.

We are hopeful the Legislature will fully recognize and respect the voices of students and families across the state and help parents access the best K-12 education options for their children.