School choice rally draws large crowd at Statehouse

 

School Choice walk
Crowd of students, teachers and parents in attendance at the school choice march.

Nearly 1,000 students, parents, educators and advocates marched down Capitol Blvd. on Wednesday wearing matching yellow scarves and holding signs that read “Let me Learn” to celebrate National School Choice Week.

Supporters rallied at the steps of the Statehouse to raise awareness of the different education options available to students, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling.

“It’s important for students and families to pick where they want to go to school,” said Ryan Porter, a third-grade teacher at The Village Charter School. “I’m proud to work for a charter school.”

Speakers at the event included students, state superintendent Sherri Ybarra and Shawna Exline, West Ada School District 2015 Teacher of the Year.

“Students are at the center of school choice and our goal as educators is to provide them with an excellent education,” Exline said.

More than 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.

Sherri Ybarra
Sherri Ybarra

“I respect your right to choose — it’s not about test scores, who is better, who is not — it’s more about what is best for our children,” Ybarra said.

Parent Jenny Ball moved her two children out of public school and to Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center because of the smaller class sizes and schedule.

“Changing schools was probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my kids,” Ball said. “I think kids get a unique opportunity to have different options for school.”

The Boise march and rally was one of more than 16,000 events held across the country this week.