"National School Choice Week" kicked off on Monday with more than 20,000 events expected across the country to promote broader education options, such as charter schools. In Rhode Island, organizers had planned a series of information sessions, policy discussions, and open houses at area schools.
The main event, a school choice rally, will be held Thursday just after noon at the Rhode Island State House.
Charter schools have become an increasingly contentious issue in Rhode Island, with opponents concerned about oversight of the schools and the loss of funding for local school districts. Last year, the state legislature made changes to the school aid formula to restore some of the funding districts lose when students attend charter schools.
But charter school proponents argue that public schools have failed to improve despite years of testing students and tracking their progress, particularly in low-income and urban neighborhoods. Many families have said charter schools represent the best, if not the only, other option, providing their children a better shot at a good education and a college degree.
Organizers described National School Choice Week as an opportunity to research and evaluate elementary and secondary school choices available for the 2017-2018 academic year.
“In the last year, Rhode Island Families for School Choice has grown to include almost every type of school available to Rhode Island students,” said Rachel McGuire, executive director of Rhode Island Families for School Choice. McGuire said traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools and homeschooling would all be highlighted during the week of events.
"The message of National School Choice Week in Rhode Island and across the country is clear: children, families, and communities benefit from increased opportunity in education," said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. "We are grateful that so many people will join together in the Ocean State to raise awareness of school choice."