In case you didn’t know, this week is National School Choice Week. Today also happens to be National Reading Day, and National Handwriting Day. Last week was Penguin Awareness Day but you’ve now missed that.
It’s debatable whether all these designated events truly raise awareness or cause people to think differently. It seems there’s a “day” for everything. For me, it’s “I Need a Blog Post Idea Right Now” Day, and school choice is pretty darn important, regardless of how you feel about it.
So, if you want to jump on the choice bandwagon or if you are already a true believer and want to support the cause, then you might want to know about things happening around here.
Choice attracts interesting bedfellows
As part of National School Choice Week, Americans for Prosperity Foundation-Colorado and talk radio 710 KNUS are hosting a live telecast featuring political commentators Dick Morris (a Fox News political commentator who once worked for Bill Clinton but later became one of Hillary Clinton’s staunchest critics), Hugh Hewitt, an outspoken Republican, evangelical Christian talk radio host, and chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education (and former Republican Congressman) Bob Schaffer “to do even more to support the teachers and the schools that are succeeding, and hold those that are failing firmly accountable.”
Despite calls for bipartisan support for choice, this particular event appears to have a specific agenda. Just look up the sponsor organization websites if you want bone up on the latest anti-Obama rhetoric. The groups are pushing a message that is clearly pro-market, anti-big government (or possibly any government) and definitely anti-union. For the record, Gov. Hickenlooper does not plan to attend, despite his endorsement of National School Choice Week.
“It’s time to put children first in the education policy debate, not the adults and not the unions,” Jeff Crank, AFP Foundation-Colorado state director, said in a statement.
Pitched as the week’s “kickoff event” in Colorado, the live telecast will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the Douglas County Events Center, 500 Fairgrounds Dr., in Castle Rock. The program will be telecasted live on the Internet at www.PutKidsFirst.com.
The location, of course, is also strategic as Dougco finds itself in the midst of a vigorous debate about school choice and vouchers in particular.
You may recall that a judge declared the school district’s voucher pilot unconstitutional in August. So, the district’s much ballyhooed Choice Scholarship Pilot Program, which happens to be the state’s first district-run voucher plan, remains in legal limbo. A decision from the Colorado Court of Appeals is not expected before March.
School choice proponents add voices to chorus
Similar “pro-school choice” events are happening across the country. Last year, National School Choice Week hosted events in 40 states and the District of Columbia, with the governors of 10 states officially recognizing the week – including Gov. Hickenlooper. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock also signed a proclamation recognizing the week.
On the national scale, organizers say National School Choice Week is planned by “a diverse and nonpartisan coalition of individuals and organizations with more than 180 partner organizations.” See for yourself by checking out this complete list of partners http://www.schoolchoiceweek.com/who_s_in.
It will be interesting to see if the event in Castle Rock brings out a similarly diverse group of choice advocates. There are odd bedfellows indeed in the school choice movement.
National School Choice Week kicked off at a special event in New Orleans on Saturday. (See video above – and yes those are The Temptations). Bill Cosby got on board, saying, “I strongly support National School Choice Week because all children in America should be able to access the best schools possible. We have a moral and societal obligation to give our children the opportunity to succeed in school, at work, and in life. We cannot meet that obligation unless parents are empowered to select the best schools of their children.”
Don’t care about school choice? Bust out a pencil with your kid and write some cursive. (But wait, I don’t think that’s taught in schools anymore… ) Or read a book. Now that’s a safe bet.
Other National School Choice Week events
- Restoring American Exceptionalism – Colorado Springs Townhall, 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, at Mountain Vista Elementary School, 2550 Dorset Dr., Colorado Springs.
- Tour TR Paul Academy of Arts & Knowledge, 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at TR Paul Academy of Arts & Knowledge, 4512 McMurry Ave., in Fort Collins.
- Restoring American Exceptionalism – Denver Townhall, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Douglas County Events Center 500 Fairgrounds Dr., Castle Rock.
- Van Dellen Christian School – School Choice Week Event, noon Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Van Dellen Christian School, 4200 E. Warren Ave., Denver.
- Tour TR Paul Academy of Arts & Knowledge! 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, at TR Paul Academy of Arts & Knowledge, 4512 McMurry Ave., Fort Collins.
- Early College of Arvada Open House, noon, Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Early College of Arvada, 4905 W. 60th Ave., Arvada.
- Kids Aren’t Cars – School Choice Movie Night! 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Independence Institute, 727 E. 16th Ave., Denver.
About Julie Poppen
Julie Poppen is the editor of EdNews Parent and a reporter for EdNews Colorado. She is also a former daily newspaper journalist who has covered a multitude of school issues in Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver. Poppen is the mother of a sixth-grader in the Boulder Valley School District.