Get on Your Mark, Get Set...Go Find a School (Choice)
At one point in time I dreaded dropping my daughter off at school. She had no reservations (thankfully). She jumped out of the car each morning more interested in socializing, than learning. However, my anxieties and reservations about school were not her concern. She didn’t know there was an achievement gap. She didn’t know that I cringed at her recounting the amount of worksheets she completed that day. She didn’t know that I tried not to bite a hole in my lip as my anxiety rose when her homework revealed rote memorization and little to no critical thinking. In my day, I got up when it was time for school, ate my breakfast, went outside, caught the bus and it took me to a school within my districts zone. If my parents were not happy with my teacher and if their pockets were not deep enough for a spot in a private school, ‘too bad, so sad’. We had no choice. Now, once a year most states allow school districts to extend the option of School Choice. Families can now choose another school if they are not satisfied with the one assigned to their child. School Choice programs are not perfect by any means. I do not endorse them as the solution to eliminating the achievement gap or providing equity. But some are actually great schools. The challenge for us parents? To find the best school for your child.
Pros to School Choice Programs:
- Your child may have access to smaller class size(s)
- Highly motivated teachers
- Access to a variety of innovative programs and strategies
Cons to School Choice Programs:
- Many programs do not contain equal amounts of children of color
- Studies are inconclusive as to the effectiveness of School Choice/Magnet or Charter schools
Tips When it's Time to Apply:
- Tour the schools you’ve chosen. Ask the teachers, administrators and principal about their pass rates on standardized tests and specific features of the program.
- Check out Greatschools.org. More than likely you will find reviews of your selected school.
- Ask around about programs. Somebody knows something.
- Be realistic: Most Choice/Magnet/Charter school program do not provide public transportation. If this is the case you will have to determine if you can provide/find transportation.
- Check out this site to see what the school choice, magnet and or charter schools options maybe where you live.