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Opinion: Microschools take center stage with new opportunities for learning for 2024

Andrew Campanella | January 23, 2024

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Last year, the landscape of K-12 education transformed as a record-breaking 20 states expanded school choice options. However, that is not the only school choice story to come out of 2023. As the nation steps into 2024, a fresh emphasis on innovation has emerged, along with new options for families. This is particularly true within the realm of microschooling.

Microschooling is an education model that is small by design — typically with 15 or fewer students of varying ages per class. It fosters a personalized and community-centric approach to learning that is especially effective in addressing the unique educational needs of diverse student populations. Programs like Education Savings Accounts are helping to fuel these microschools.

ESAs are instrumental in democratizing education. By providing direct funding to parents, they empower families with the financial means to make educational decisions that best suit their children while helping schools outside the conventional system truly flourish.

For example Black Mothers Forum Microschools, a growing network in Arizona that focuses on culturally nuanced and inclusive education, is thriving in large part because of the state’s ESA program. It serves over 70,000 students statewide in nearly 400 learning environments and makes innovative schools like Black Mothers Forum Microschools far more accessible to families, while inspiring parents to explore the full breadth of education options available for their children.

Opening doors for such exploration is at the heart of the school choice ethos. Whether for a microschool, traditional public school, public magnet school, public charter school, private school, online school or home school, the more options a family can pursue, the better. These will be on full display during National School Choice Week, an annual nationwide celebration hosted by the National School Choice Awareness Foundation in collaboration with Navigate — The National School Choice Resource Center.

For National School Choice Week, our team is partnering with microschools and organizations across the country to celebrate these new options. For example, Positively Arts Microschool will host a school fair in Nevada to showcase microschools and other choice options. Meanwhile, Microschool Florida will host a fun-filled microschool/hybrid/homeschool showcase event with guest speakers, vendors and activities. And in Georgia, Black Microschools ATL will recognize the work parents and volunteers do to make these options possible.

National School Choice Week is, however, far more than just a packed calendar of unique events and activities. The week serves a vital dual purpose: raising awareness about the critical need for increased educational options and providing practical, jargon-free online resources for parents. With 57% of families saying they will likely be searching for new schools for their children in 2024 and 64% wanting more information about how to exercise their choices, the week acts as a crucial juncture for empowering parents with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions.

A fundamental shift is taking place in education, and National School Choice Week is shining light on every possible option. As more than 27,000 schools and organizations celebrate all that has been accomplished in school choice this past year and embrace this new era of educational innovation in microschooling, ESAs and other school choice programs, the future beams bright with promise. Everyone who supports greater opportunity in education – –from parents to grandparents, educators, advocates, organizational and community leaders to state policymakers– – should recommit to doing all they can to keep this momentum going in 2024 so that, one day, all families will have the full breadth of educational freedom they so rightfully deserve.

Andrew Campanella is chairman of the National School Choice Awareness Foundation and Navigate — The National School Choice Resource Center.

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