Nearly 1,000 children, parents, educators and advocates for school choice marched down Capitol Boulevard at noon Tuesday to celebrate National School Choice Week.
Children carried signs that read “I Trust Parents” and, accompanied by police escort, traversed to the Statehouse steps to listen to a variety of speakers, including First Lady Lori Otter and state superintendent Sherri Ybarra.
Ybarra said: “I’m a firm advocate of local control. It personalizes education.”
Idaho was recognized by a National School Choice Week committee as one of the top 15 states for providing students with education options. The national movement honored Idaho since its educational opportunities include public, charter, private, parochial, virtual and home schools.
Parent Erin Harris moved her three children to Compass Public Charter School in Meridian because “we have a voice in everything from what our kids learn about to the bus schedule.”
Just over 64,000 Idaho students are enrolled in a school of choice (charter, private, home, curricular choice), according to the Idaho Charter School Network. That accounts for about 21 percent of Idaho’s nearly 300,000 students.
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“We have lots of options so we can find out what works best for our children,” said Alyssa Antoniuk, a mother of four. “I’d like to continue to have these options and I’d also like the money to follow the child.”
Idaho has 48 charter schools, a 33 percent increase over the past five years.
“Who knows kids best? Parents,” Antoniuk said. “Parents can make great choices for their kids and we should have the opportunity to make those choices.”