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School Choice rally being held in Austin

School Choice rally being held in Austin

There may be a little extra bounce in NSCW's official dance routines this week given Donald Trump's nomination of public education foe Betsy DeVos to be U.S. Secretary of Education, though her confirmation vote in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been delayed until January 31. "That really might make a difference", said La Crosse School District Superintendent Randy Nelson.

DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa points to the districts collegiate academies and magnets as choices within the public school system.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) spoke about his own rise out of poverty and the role of education in changing lives. High school graduates are far less likely to be incarcerated, and are six times more likely to participate in community and civic affairs than individuals without high school diplomas.

Thousands of people are planning to come together in Austin to rally for school choice, and many of them are families and educators from Houston.

Of the just over 482,000 students who attend Mississippi's public schools, children enrolled in in the state's three charters, all located in Jackson, comprise less than 1-percent. Sometimes it's about the culture of a school, the kinds of offerings that might be in that school, the kinds of programming that might be going on there.

Deborah Hendrix of Parents Challenge said school choice increases competition, which leads to improvement. If that school is failing, the student can opt to attend another option-either private, charter or homeschool. "Yet too many parents are denied access to the full range of options". Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who was endorsed by the National Education Association in her last race, did not indicate which way the senator was leaning, saying only on Monday that regarding DeVos and other cabinet nominees, the senator "will continue to closely examine the merits of each candidate before arriving at a final decision".

"To me this is personal", Ballard said. "But parents have become less tolerant of the status quo, and today, parents have a wealth of options to fit their needs and preferences".

"I think it shows progress", said rally organizer Randan Steinhauser, executive director of Texans for Education Opportunity, a new nonprofit focused on getting lawmakers on board with education savings accounts. Some parents want that and others, don't. When asked if he was anxious about DeVos losing the one-vote margin she needs to have her nomination favorably advanced out of the committee, he said "No". This process is called open enrollment or public school choice. DeVos has also been under fire for stumbling on Democrats' questions at the hearing about the rights of special education students, gun-free school zones and how student learning is measured.

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