The pandemic brought along significant upheaval to K-12 education. As school districts struggled with mandates, guidelines, requirements and guidance from all levels of the government, parents, students and educators were caught in the middle of the chaos.
Frustrated parents formed Facebook groups, attended meetings and eventually forced action by local school boards— on issues from remote learning to the reopening of schools. School board meetings, once fairly sleepy affairs, made national news.
The bottom line: parents were paying attention, and they wanted to be involved in the decisions impacting their kids. This enthusiasm from parents was no surprise.
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Our fight to give every parent a choice in their child's education
At American Federation for Children and TennesseeCAN, we have always understood the underlying problems in education. We’ve spent years in the Volunteer State advocating to ensure that every Tennessee student has access to a high-quality education and ensuring that parents are in the driver’s seat.
For years, families across this state have relied on us to help them lift their voices in favor of more high-quality educational options. Take the Nall family, here in Middle Tennessee: their children were attending their neighborhood public school when the pandemic hit. With their kids at home learning, they discovered a better path for them in an out-of-the-box solution: a homeschool pod.
They joined with five other families, hired a teacher, and the kids got to work. A year later, both students are thriving in the small, eight-student classroom. The school days are a little shorter due to it being a small group, and the family enjoys being able to spend more time together just living life.
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What works for the Nalls won’t work for everyone, but the power of school choice is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. For too long, millions of students across the country have had limited options when it comes to their K-12 education, and our organizations are seeking to change that.
Poll after poll shows school choice is supported by parents in Tennessee and nationwide. Since the onset of the pandemic, parents are even more attuned to the type of education their children are getting. They are hungry to be more involved. We want to give them that opportunity, and a way to make their voices heard.
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On Sunday, Tennessee once again began celebrating National School Choice Week, which shines a light on effective K-12 education options for children.
We are pleased that families in Tennessee have a host of educational options: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies and homeschooling.
We want to celebrate the options parents have now, and advocate for them to have even more choices for their children to pursue an education where they will flourish and succeed. To join us as we celebrate National School Choice Week, visit https://schoolchoiceweek.com/.
Victor Evans is the Executive Director of TennesseeCAN. John Patton is the Tennessee State Director for the American Federation for Children.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: The power in giving parents a choice in their child's education