State school superintendent John Huppenthal connected with the National School Choice Week whistle-stop tour in Tucson on Wednesday to promote increased education options for Arizona families.

Tucson was one of 14 cities to host the cross-country tour, which is promoting the advantages of allowing parents and students to choose between charter schools, open enrollment between school districts and home schooling.

More than 5,500 independent events in Arizona and across the country were planned to commemorate the week.

The whistle-stop tour began Jan. 22 in Newark, N.J., and will end Saturday in San Francisco.

Wednesday’s rally at Old Tucson Studios featured dancers doing the “school choice” dance, students sharing how they’ve benefited from school choice, and local and state officials who addressed the crowd.

Arizona is among the states with the most charter schools, with 532 at the beginning of this school year, according to the Arizona Charter School Association web site.

There are almost 100 traditional, alternative and small charter schools in Pima County.

Huppenthal recalled his days in the state Legislature when lawmakers began discussing school choice and passed the first charter school bill. Huppenthal was formerly a state representative and senator before he was elected superintendent.

Huppenthal predicted Arizona would have the “best schools in the nation” within the next decade, as a result of school choice.

“We believe school choice produces enormous social benefits,” he said.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger