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Alabama celebrates School Choice Week

Governor Kay Ivey has officially proclaimed January 20-26 Alabama School Choice Week, as parents and teachers from every type of K-12 education option celebrate increased opportunity in education.

The week, which is already underway and coincides with National School Choice Week, will feature 744 events and activities across the Yellowhammer State, including open house events at schools, school fairs, homeschool information sessions and other celebrations. According to a press release, one of the largest events in Alabama will be a series of breakfast roundtables in Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile featuring academic scholarship recipient families.

Nationwide, 40,549 events and activities are being organized to raise awareness during this weeklong celebration, and 10.8 million Americans are expected to participate.

This is expected to be the largest series of education-related events and activities in U.S. history.

In Alabama, parents and students are celebrating the state’s bevy of educational options, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, dual enrollment programs and homeschooling.

“Alabama families have more choices for their children’s education than ever before, and we encourage parents to use National School Choice Week to explore these options,” National School Choice Week President Andrew Campanella said in a statement.

The Yellowhammer State even offers tax credit scholarships and educational tax credits for some families to send their children to private or parochial schools. Students below a certain income level or transferring from failing schools are given this opportunity through the Alabama Accountability Act.

Then, there is ACCESS Alabama: the state’s virtual school, designed for high school students to take courses that may not be available (or easy to schedule) at their own schools. Public school students in grades 9-12 can take these classes for free while nonpublic school students can take the offerings for a fee.

On the local level, elected officials and community leaders are recognizing the importance of increased educational opportunity by officially recognizing School Choice Week. In addition to Ivey issuing her statewide official proclamation, the cities of Athens, Brundidge, Clanton, Daphne, Elberta, Jemison, Montgomery, Ohatchee, Orange Beach and Vincent have issued their own proclamations celebrating the occasion in their community.

“We’re excited that Alabama families are so passionate about school choice, and we’re encouraged by Gov. Ivey’s support for that,” Campanella added. “We wish Alabama families all the best in their celebrations and hope that the planned events and activities will help parents find the educational opportunities that best meet their children’s needs.”

Celebrated since 2011, National School Choice Week is an independent public awareness effort meant to shine a positive spotlight on effective education options for students, families and communities around the country. The week is nonpartisan, nonpolitical and unrelated to any legislative advocacy campaign.

You can find a School Choice Week event near you here.

RELATED: Coalition forms to support children, parents seeking better schools

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn