School choice rally held in downtown Montgomery

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

You may have noticed hundreds of yellow scarfs in downtown Montgomery Friday morning but it wasn't due to the weather.

This week marks National School Choice week.

Parents, educators, and students gathered to promote what they say are more opportunities for better education.

"So this is a movement. National School Choice week started back in 2011 with about 150 events," said Chad Mathis with the Alabama Federation for Children. "It has now grown to about 20,000 events across the nation and this is their symbol of National School Choice week."

The goal of school choice week is to raise awareness of the education options parents have or want to be able to have, including public, charter, magnet, private, online learning, and homeschooling.

"I received a great education in Montgomery Public Schools system, an amazing education. And it worked for me but our times are changing," said Ibrahim Lee, a former educator. "The refrigerator has changed, the microwave has changed, the telephone has changed but our classrooms continue to stay the same."

Here in Alabama, the first school choice law was passed during the 2013 legislative session, forming a scholarship program for low-income families and those who are stuck in under performing schools.

Leaders say school choice helps provide the best learning environment for each individual student.

"I want people to be educated about how an entire year of the lack of quality instruction would do to a student or two weeks of lack of quality instruction," Lee said. "Or how not having the necessary materials, what that effects on parents and how that affects teachers."

And school choice advocates say giving parents more options could be the best way to improve public schools.

"Once you introduce the charter schools and scholarship programs, the traditional public schools actually improve as well. So it's not about 'either/or', it's about 'all of the above'," Mathis said. "More competition improves the quality of the product. And the product here is education for our children. And who doesn't want their child to have the best education." 

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