10/29/2014 09:32 am ET Updated Dec 29, 2014

National School Choice Week: A Response to Steve Nelson

Dear Mr. Nelson:

I read your piece on the Huffington Post about National School Choice Week. I am happy to reply to your (second) open letter to us.

National School Choice Week truly does celebrate schools -- and all types of schools. We want moms and dads in local communities across the country to know that they have a choice in the best education environment for their children -- whether it is a traditional public school, a public charter school, a magnet school, a private school like yours, an online academy, or through homeschooling.

But if parents do not have opportunities and options, and they want those choices, National School Choice Week also provides the opportunity for them to stand up and have their voices heard. The celebration is positive -- and yes, in a time when every public conversation in our nation seems so dire and controversial, it is also fun.

We do not take political positions. We are not involved in advocacy for or against any legislation. National School Choice Week is not a lobbying effort.

Millions of people, thousands of schools, and hundreds of organizations participate in National School Choice Week, and spend their own money planning events and activities. We are grateful for every single school, organization, and individual who participates in National School Choice Week. Even though you have chosen to cherry-pick a small group of them to suit your narrative, and erroneously describe some of them as funders, I will not turn my back on a single of our participants. I am grateful for each of them.

In fact, the beauty of National School Choice Week is that, in a time when the left, the center, and the right barely agree on what time of day it is, National School Choice Week brings people together to partner on something they actually support together. We do so not with the type of "ambivalence" you describe in yourself, but with great joy.

You asked how I can be proud of the work that I do?

It's easy. There are millions of parents in this country who would give everything -- except that which they do not have, money -- to send their children to a "privileged" school like yours -- or even just to a school that better meets the needs of their children. To so many of these parents, it doesn't matter if that school is public, charter, magnet, private, online (or in the home), just that it challenges and motivates their children to succeed. And I believe that purposefully denying parents access to good education options for their children is a tragedy, one that results in too many young people not being able to realize their own American dreams.

Now, National School Choice Week most certainly does not solve all of the problems facing education in America. But it allows great schools to celebrate their success, so that more parents know of the options they have. It allows parents to learn more about school choice and explore the opportunities that are available for their children. And it provides a platform for people across the country who believe that we need to provide parents with greater access to good education options for their kids. Those are good things, for participants, and for our country.

However, given your desire not to participate, we will take you off of our list. Thanks for writing.


Andrew Campanella

Campanella is the president of National School Choice Week - National School Choice Week is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical public awareness effort in support of school choice.