Monterey County

School Leaders Question Whether School Choice Is Practical

All week events are being held nationwide to educate parents on school choices

SALINAS, Calif. - National School Choice Week is being celebrated in every state this week with nearly 6,000 events. It's all an effort to educate parents on all the school options out there for their kids. While organizers said giving parents the option to choose from different types of schools is a good thing, some local school leaders said it isn't very practical.

On Monday some school officials and the Monterey County superintendent expressed support for the movement. A private school principal even said it raises the bar on competition for all schools.

Santa Rita Union School District Superintendent Michael Brusa said Tuesday the idea of "school choice" isn't anything new. In fact, he processes about 700 transfers within his district every year.

"I believe in free market and choice, and that kind of thing, but you have to look at the entire picture of what that means and I don't think people are prepared to do that," he said.

He's talking about funding within the California education system.

He said sure, the idea behind National School Choice Week sounds good, educating parents nationwide on options available when it comes to choosing a school they think is best for their kid. But Brusa said there's really not a whole lot of room for movement within the system.

"Unless you change a lot of things it's not a really, in my opinion, a very meaningful thing. Most of it is about the funding, about what can happen so that this school or that school can get funding out of the system that funds mostly public schools and I think that's the biggest issue," Brusa said.

Chief Business Officer Brett McFadden pulled up recent data showing more students are taking advantage of school choice within the Pajaro Valley Unified School District.

That means an added cost to the district in providing transportation to just a small amount of kids across the district.

"The interesting part of it is it hasn't brought about long-term, sustained positive changes in public education nationwide. I don't think there's any data to show that," McFadden said. "Choice is always good, but we always want to make sure that it's leading to positive public policy in the area of education and I don't think that question has been answered yet."

A grass-roots coalition is holding nearly 6,000 independently-funded events in every state this week for National School Choice Week.

To view events happening this week in your area and to learn more about National School Choice Week, visit

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