School choice advocates across the country are gearing up for the 3rd annual National School Choice Week, set to kick off this Friday, Jan. 25 at the Phoenix Convention Center with a string of colorful and offbeat promotional events to follow.
The kickoff event will feature remarks from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and a performance from pop stars The Jonas Brothers. In addition, National School Choice Week president Andrew Campanella will be beamed in via satellite from his post on the first-ever school choice whistle-stop train tour to provide some commentary as well.
Campanella says the Amtrak train tour is meant to be a throwback to pre-Internet days when important issues in politics, such as women's suffrage and presidential campaigns, relied on the face-to-face interaction that happens during train tours. "We focus a lot of our communication online and there's a lot of benefits to that, but you can't replace one-on-one human interaction," he said.
The tour will visit 14 cities across the U.S. over the course of nine days, and there are events planned for each of the stops, said Campanella. Participants can RSVP to participate in any of the events scheduled at the train's stops, which range from luncheons to parties with guest school choice speakers to school choice rallies. And if you don't already have a ticket to ride, you can track the train's progress on an interactive map or stop by for a wave-along as the train rolls through a city near you (although it is up to Amtrak whether participants will be allowed on the platform).
Campanella said that the main goal of the event is to promote the full menu of school choice options. "Whether it's a public school, a public charter, a magnet school, a private school, or homeschooling, we want parents to be able to make that choice," he said. "This is the time of year that [parents] really need to start making choices for the next school year."
The event, which started in 2010 with about 150 community-planned events has grown to include 3,500 different independently-planned events in all 50 states across the country from meet-ups at coffeehouses to rallies at state houses, said Campanella.
The Jonas Brothers, a train tour, and the marketing does not stop there. The promoters have even put together instructional video for the "official flash dance" of school-choice week, below. I may or may not have tried this today in my home office. Don't believe them when they tell you it's easy.
Photo credit: Nick Jonas, left, and Joe Jonas of The Jonas Brothers perform in concert last November in Los Angeles. —John Shearer/Invision/AP