BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho - When parents decide where to send their child for an education, they have six choices. This week schools across the country are participating in National School Choice Week.
Those six options are traditional public, private, charter, magnet, online, or home school. A charter school is a public school with no additional tuition and interested students are chosen by lottery. Charter schools are often specialized and allow more one-on-one attention. Magnet schools are also tuition-free and focus on a specific discipline, like the Technical Careers High School in Bonneville County.
National School Choice Week is in its third year and schools can opt to participate in the nationwide event. White Pine Charter School is participating and had special yellow scarves to give to students. Tina Martindale is a language arts teacher who asked her middle school students to write letters to their parents, legislators and even the governor, thanking them for allowing them the opportunity to attend a school of choice.
"If your focus is going to college then you can choose something like that. Our kids have chosen to suffer through a dress code, because we have a higher standard than everybody else, which is what they were aiming for," said Martindale.
Another option is private school, many of which are religiously affiliated. Holy Rosary Catholic School is also celebrating Catholic Schools Week. Students are participating in a variety of service projects and they get to break dress code for special dress up days. Monday was crazy hair day.
"I think it's wonderful to provide choice in hopes of raising the bar for all education for all children," said Carina VanPelt, principal of Holy Rosary.
A newer option growing in popularity is a virtual school. At Bonneville Online Schools, students can supplement their traditional education or enroll as a full-time online student. Principal Ty Salsbery says there are many reasons why families elect the virtual program.
"A lot of traditional home-school families are looking for curriculum. So because we can provide the highly qualified teachers and the curriculum that is accredited, they come to us so we can offer support," said Salsbery.
No matter what option is best for individual students, the point of this week is to celebrate having options in education.
"There is really no reason for any student not to earn a diploma if they are dedicated, and want to find the situation that is right for them and their learning style," said Salsbery.
There are 20 "official" School Choice events statewide this week.