Across the country and here in the Golden State, a revolution in education has taken place over the past few decades. “Parent power”—both engagement and empowerment—has helped to drive new quality educational options for families. This National School Choice Week, we can recognize the ways in which providing parents with more and better options improves the education—and ultimately the future—of millions of American children.

As anyone browsing a clothing store can readily attest, one size does not fit all. Every child has his or her own unique talents, needs, interests, and learning style. School choice responds to students’ unique qualities, by providing parents with a diverse array of educational options for their children.

School choice includes charter schools, taxpayer funded academies with more flexibility and accountability than traditional public schools. School choice also includes open enrollment, where parents can place their students in public schools outside their traditional neighborhood boundaries.

Other school options for parents highlight specialized or non-traditional learning. For instance, California’s 567 magnet schools offer programs in math, science, the arts, or other focused topics. And online or virtual schools, along with a variety of blended learning options, give students the ability to study outside the classic classroom setting.

This effort to give parents more options empowers the ultimate stakeholder in a child’s education with the ultimate form of school accountability—the power to select the right school for the right child. No one, however well-intentioned, can better argue on behalf of a student than that student’s own parents. And no parent should face the disempowerment and disillusionment that comes from seeing their child stuck in a failing school, or one that does not meet the student’s needs.

Across the country, parents have led the school choice movement every step of the way—demanding more and better options for their sons and daughters. This grassroots advocacy and movement for greater accountability has transformed our educational landscape. Fully 43 states, including California, have passed laws allowing for the creation of charter schools. And 30 states—but, unfortunately, not yet California—have adopted some form of school choice scholarship program, empowering parents to pick the best school for their child, whether public or private.

The movement for school choice couldn’t have come at a better time, as results indicate the challenges facing our educational system. A recent study of 35 developed countries ranked American students’ outcomes 19th in science, 20th in reading, and only 31st in math. But by increasing accountability, promoting new and innovative educational models, and growing students’ love of learning by placing them in the school that best meets their needs, school choice will improve outcomes for years to come.

This January 21-27, parents, teachers, and students will gather at more than 30,000 events nationwide to celebrate National School Choice Week. These events celebrate the efforts by many longstanding supporters—not least, impassioned parents—to make the dream of school choice a reality for millions of American students. By improving our educational system, these committed parents are making a difference—not just for their own children, but for our entire country.

About the Author: Dr. Nicole Conragan is the president of California Parents for Public Virtual Education, a statewide parent organization with students enrolled in an online or blended-learning public charter school. For over 5 years, she has served as a leading school choice advocate in Sacramento and Washington, DC.