AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - This week kicks off National School Choice week (NSCW), a week which raises public awareness of education options for students.
This week gives parents the chance to embrace all types of education available for their children such as public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
Parents and students have the opportunity of deciding what they want to be included in their education, and it allows students to attend a school that focuses on their wants and needs.
This week, participating schools will host events such as open houses, roundtables, school fairs, information sessions, and more to inform parents about their school and academic programs.
"In this great country we do have choices in where we want to pursue education," said William Summerhill, Head of School at Ascension Academy. "For those who are looking for opportunities, special programs, smaller class size, perhaps a different culture, a stress on academics, private school becomes a very attractive alternative."
However, private schools do not receive state funding or tax brakes meaning it's hard to make education affordable, which makes this week also a time for educators, parents, and citizens to make efforts to encourage law makers to use public money to financially assist parents who choose to send their children to nonpublic schools.
"The state governments create a system where there are tax vouchers that can be applied to private school, or a more friendly tax relief environment where businesses can actually help underwrite the cost of financial aid for needy kids at private schools," Summerhill said. "Some states with income taxes you can get tax credit where if you're not sending your child to public school but your tax dollars are used to support public schools, some of that can be directed towards your own child's education."
Currently, Texas is debating ways for residents to get tax credit if parents want to send their children to a private school.
State legislatures are also determining if they will allow scholarship tax credits, which encourage private donations to expand educational opportunities for low and middle income families. Scholarship tax credits grant tax credits to individuals and/or corporate taxpayers who contribute to nonprofit scholarship organizations.
The state is also looking into education savings accounts, which allows parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts. Those funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, educational therapies, college course costs, and other higher education expenses.
Summerhill believes NSCW will not have a large impact on public schools.
"The public schools work very hard at doing what they do in serving the vast majority of kids in the Panhandle, but there's room in Amarillo for all the schools and I think when the public schools are strong it helps the private schools and when the private schools are strong it helps the public schools, so I don't see us in competition," Summerhill said.
For more information about local events visit the National School Choice Week's website.