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School choice celebrates diversity of thought, talent, perspectives

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Is it important to you that your son or daughter learns a second language in school?

Maybe. Maybe not.

What about uniforms? Do you think they create a better learning environment? Are they too stifling?

Or music? Do you want your son or daughter to play in a band or orchestra?

Andrew Campenella

Andrew Campenella

How about religion? Is there a specific faith you want to pass down to your children? What is it? Or maybe you’d prefer that they be raised without religion.

Do you think your children will learn best in a single-sex environment or is it better to mix the boys and girls, young men and young women in the same class?

Whatever your answers, you can be confident that thousands of other Americans would answer them differently.

And that’s part of what makes America, and Arizona, so great. We are not the same, and we can benefit from our differences. I know I’m personally grateful for the friends, colleagues, and associates whose perspectives on the world are not like mine. They enrich my life by challenging me to think outside my box.

Because diversity is such a strength of our country, it’s important for us to preserve and celebrate that diversity.

What does that mean for our schools?

It means we shouldn’t ask them to be everything for everyone. With focused budgets and resources, not every school can provide everything. But even with unlimited budgets and a full staff of excellent teachers, no school can both meet the unique needs of every single family.

That’s why school choice is so important. It empowers parents to find schools that work for their kids, and their families. In environments where school choice is flourishing, parents are even empowered to found their own schools and help other families, too.

Here in Arizona, there are plenty of educational options, including open enrollment, charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling. Arizona even offers scholarships for certain families hoping to send their children to private or parochial schools.

From the beginning, America has been a richly diverse country, weaving together the similarities and differences of many different cultures into a beautiful fabric. There are as many ways to be American as there are Americans, and even those born in the same country — or same city — have different ways of living. Our desire for variety in education reflects that.

Today’s kids, educated in different kinds of schools — with or without uniforms, religion, second languages, music, or whatever else — will bring to tomorrow’s positions of leadership not monotony or sameness but a deeply diverse and crucially varied set of experiences.

What better way to promote that diversity than to celebrate National School Choice Week — and the diversity of education it inspires?

— Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week.

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