While sending children to a public school may be ideal for many parents, others feel their children may need a more tailored approach to learning. Wherever its residents get their schooling from, the city of Payette has chosen to embrace this ability to choose where our kids go to school: At its Jan. 21 meeting, the Payette City Council declared the week of Jan. 26-Feb. 1 “Payette School

Choice Week.”

According to city staff, the request came from the National School Choice Week organization.

According to Shelby Doyle, director of communications and external relations at National School Choice Week, every city and county across the U.S. is encouraged to recognize the occasion and encourage parents to decide what’s best for their kids.

“National School Choice Week is about celebrating opportunity in education; it is now the world’s largest annual celebration of K-12 educational opportunity,” said Doyle via email.

“The week seeks to raise awareness about school choice: the process of allowing every family to choose the K-12 educational options that best fit their children. These options include all forms of education, from traditional public schools, to public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling. NSCW is not political and does not support or oppose specific legislation.”

Even though Payette is in a rural area with fewer school choices, Doyle says choice is still just as important.

“School choice certainly works differently in urban and rural environments, but having fewer brick-and-mortar school options nearby doesn’t make school choice any less important to rural areas. In fact, it makes it even more important that students have access to all the nearby options, as well as online schools. Many rural states have heavily invested in full-time or part-time free online school options for just this reason.”

Mayor Jeff Williams read the proclamation during the meeting.

Councilor Lori Steiniker, a teacher in Payette, expressed skepticism over Payette making such a declaration.

“As a public educator, I agree that public schools are not the right fit for everybody. I totally agree with that,” said Steiniker. “We don’t have a multitude of nonpublic schools in Payette. I’m wondering ... why are we doing this?” 

Steiniker also noted that preschool is not officially recognized in Idaho.

Council Daniel Lopez made the motion to approve the declaration, with Mike Kee seconding. The motion was approved 5-1, with Steiniker voting against.

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