school choice week

Parents in Memphis, Tennessee, have demonstrated why National School Choice Week—which kicks off on Saturday—could not come a moment too soon.

Memphis parents are camping out—in subzero temperatures—for the third year in a row in front of Shelby County School District headquarters to have a chance at registering their children in optional schools. The registration for the Shelby School District Optional Program does not begin until Monday morning at 6 a.m., but parents—and even grandparents—began camping out in tents at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning to increase the chance of their children getting into better schools.

The district’s Optional Program gives students within and outside of the school district an opportunity to attend the district’s 48 “theme schools.”

The district’s website reports that the schools provide the best option for allowing students to “achieve academically while pursuing their specialized interests and needs.…With over 47 theme-based schools, there is sure to be an Optional Program that fits your child’s unique needs and interests.”

“We want them to go; I asked them to go home. We can’t make them leave,” said the program’s director, Linda Sklar. “I think parents feel that there are certain programs that meet their child’s special needs and that’s why they’re here.”

One father said his son called him to thank him for standing in line for the next five days.

A camped-out mother said she would do “anything for the kids’ education.”

As National School Choice Week approaches, the families of the Shelby County School District are demonstrating that parents all across the country are willing to fight for their children’s education and hold schools accountable to their high expectations.

Brandon Hershey is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.