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    National School Choice Week Kicks Off

    National School Choice Week 2013 kicked off Friday night at a packed house in Phoenix, Arizona. The annual event, which this year runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, highlights a diverse selection of educational options for all kids. It made sense to launch this year’s effort in Arizona, a pioneer in school choice initiatives.

    With more than 7,000 attendees and thousands more watching online, this was the biggest kickoff ever for National School Choice Week. The occasion is just the first of more than 3,500 independently planned special events that will be held across all 50 states.

    Much of the crowd was made up of Arizona students who have benefited from the state’s dynamic school choice environment. With the first education reform laws passed in 1994, the Grand Canyon State has lead the nation in empowering parents to choose what’s best for their children's academic success.

    The students enjoyed a 45-minute set by the Jonas Brothers, but also heard from several speakers, including education reform pioneer Lisa Graham Keegan, co-founder of EduPrize Schools JoAnna Curtis, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and several award-winning students.

    National School Choice Week President Andrew Campanella delivered a video message live from Los Angeles. Standing amid a crowd of enthusiastic flag-waving youth, Campanella called the event “the largest celebration of school choice in American history.”

    Stressing the bipartisan appeal of the issue he added, “we stand together not as Republicans and Democrats… but as one nation united for school choice.” Recent polling shows that 66 percent of Americans favor charter schools and an overwhelming 85 percent of likely voters in battleground states support opportunity scholarships for underprivileged youth.

    Following his remarks, Campanella left L.A. on a historic, 14-stop train tour ending in New York City in support of education reform.

    National School Choice Week organizers believe that to improve student achievement, graduation rates, and American competitiveness in the global marketplace, families must be empowered to choose the best educational options for their children. These options include high-performing public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, digital/online learning, and homeschooling.

    To find an event near you, follow the whistle stop tour, watch videos, or learn more about school choice, visit the National School Choice Week website.

    Follow me on Twitter at @ExJon.