School Choice Week 2022: Closing Remarks

Closing Remarks, NSCW Rally

(These remarks were delivered by Garrett Ballengee at the closing celebration of West Virginia’s week-long National School Choice Week festivities on Thursday, January 27, 2022 at the West Virginia Capitol.)


First, I would like to thank everyone who attended today’s closing celebration of this week’s National School Choice Week activities in West Virginia. Today’s event is but one of thousands of events happening across the country this week celebrating education choice, celebrating what is, at its essence, HOPE. It’s been a sincere pleasure seeing the celebrations grow in West Virginia from a small event in Harper’s Ferry with about 30 attendees to filling the 700-seat auditorium at the Charleston Civic Center in consecutive years to this year in which we had the state’s first-ever school choice fair with 17 participating schools and education service providers showing up with a packed room full of enthusiastic families, children, and student performers. As choice continues to blossom in our state, I expect these events to grow and evolve as our state’s education system evolves alongside West Virginia’s own education system as it evolves into a 21st Century education ecosystem which places students and parents at the focal point.

Now, there is something different about this year’s celebration, isn’t there? Not just size. Not just venue.

There is hope in the air. You see, this is the first time in which we’ve celebrated not just an idea, not just a concept, not just an abstraction, not just a longing for something that some other state has that West Virginia does not yet have.

For the first time, we are celebrating National School Choice Week in West Virginia amidst a legal and policy environment that allows for and promotes education freedom … what a beautiful 180 degree turn the state has made since our first NSCW celebration back in 2016. Now, those children and families in other states look to West Virginia for guidance … for ideas … for inspiration … on  how best to catalyze opportunity for every child, regardless of neighborhood, ZIP code, or financial circumstance. For the first time, West Virginia is the envy of education reformers across the country and that is something that we can be very, very proud of as West Virginians. This state, our humble West Virginia, has taken the country’s biggest step yet towards recognizing the reality that different children need different things yet each has – and is – a gift to be supported and nurtured. As Alan Bloom once defined education is the movement from darkness to light, West Virginia’s spark will burn very bright, indeed.

Now, I recognize I’m the last thing standing before you and the warm embrace of lunch, so I will simply conclude with a note of gratitude. Thank you to each and every one of you for taking time out of your schedule to come to this celebration today. The NSCW events always provide me with a bit of rocket fuel to continue the fight to put children front and center of our education system. You’re all an instrumental part of that for me, the entire Cardinal team, and our wonderful network of allies across the state. Your stories, your performances, and your passion are an inspiration. And finally, please be sure to keep an eye and ear out for the news on the Hope Scholarship in the coming months as our struggle for education freedom surely continues throughout this year. Again, my sincere gratitude to each and every one of you for joining us today. Without you, and your promises of a brighter future, none of this would be worth it.  Thank you.


Garrett Ballengee is the executive director for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.