National School Choice Week is celebrated across the U.S. during the third week of January each year. From Jan. 22-28, 2023, non-public schools celebrate the option for parents and students to choose the most appropriate educational opportunities for their families. The choices may include public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, non-public schools, faith-based schools, online academies and homeschooling. All these schools strive to provide a strong educational experience for the young hearts and minds entrusted to the care of parents.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own personal convictions. This right is fundamental," and "public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and ensuring concrete conditions for its exercise" (CCC #2229). Additionally, the Code of Canon Laws emphasizes, "The Christian faithful have the right to a Christian education by which they are to be instructed properly to strive for the maturity of the human person and at the same time to know and live the mystery of salvation" (No. 217).
During this national week of celebration, educators, parents and students celebrate this right to parental choice, with the support of our state government. In North Carolina, the Opportunity Scholarship Program and the Educational Student Accounts Program (ESA+) support families with grants and financial resources to offset the cost of tuition. Registration for the Opportunity Scholarship and ESA+ programs opens on February 1, 2023. Interested families may find information and guidelines at the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship and ESA+ Program websites.
We will also shortly celebrate Catholic Schools Week across our nation (Jan. 29 - Feb. 4). Reflecting on our diocesan Catholic Schools, Assistant Superintendent Dr. John Pendergrass stated, “Parents are encouraged to consider choosing a Catholic school to help form their child's education with a worldview that is centered on God’s only begotten son, Jesus, through the Catholic scholastic tradition.”
Let us prayerfully support parents who have a choice to make. Let us celebrate that in North Carolina, more parents have access to the resources that can help them make a school choice for the support and strengthening of their families.
Anna Bragg is Director of Marketing and Enrollment Management for the Diocese of Raleigh Office of Education.