SALINAS, Calif. - As part of National School Choice Week, parents across the nation are actively searching for a good school for their kids. A grass-roots coalition has been informing parents all this week about the options they may not know are available to them.
On Wednesday, Central Coast News looked at the option of a public charter school in light of the state superintendent's visit to Monterey County.
"The charter movement is well underway, and it's so diversified in its approach," said Peter Gray, principal of Millennium Charter High School in Salinas.
The students at Millennium are in school for nine hours every day trained in the digital media world they hope to break into.
Because the charter school is making strides in this digital age, the students on Wednesday received a special visit. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson had to come see for himself.
"This program here in Salinas is a role model for the rest of California. This is an outstanding, excellent, awesome program, and I'm glad to see it firsthand," Torlakson said.
So when it comes to National School Choice Week, it's no wonder the grass-roots coalition behind the movement said California is one of the richest, most robust choice markets for education in the country. And a lot of that is led by digital learning.
"I don't favor vouchers for private schools, but I do favor the expansion of opportunities for charters because, in particular, the large comprehensive high school works for many students, but it doesn't work for many students, as well. They need something that's smaller, focused on hands-on learning," Gray said.
Gray said while parents this week are being informed of the school options out there, it really isn't a choice for many families.
"It isn't by economics, geography, by proximity to school sites," he said. "The type of education they pay for in private schools should, in my opinion, be available to all people. It's an inequality in our country."
"When you have these schools that have a special purpose, they bring about an offer, a chance for students to join in on something they're motivated about," Torlakson said. "And what do you see? You see the dropout rate go down, the graduation go up and up."
Millennium is an independent charter school. It functions the same way as a public school, so it gets money from the state for attendance.
The grass-roots coalition behind National School Choice Week is holding nearly 6,000 independently-funded events in every state.
To view events happening this week in your area and to learn more about National School Choice Week, visit http://schoolchoiceweek.com/.