A choice in school used to mean choosing between public and private education. In the last 40 years, education variety in America has grown by leaps and bounds. Families have the choice to educate their children in unique ways that help to facilitate learning in environments tailored to their child’s needs. Today, the options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online education, and home education.
Why is School Choice Important?
When a parent becomes involved in the education of their child or children, the child statistically becomes more involved in their own education, they perform better on tests, they are more engaged in the classroom, and they are more empathetic to other students. Teachers can tell when a parent is involved at home as well. When a parent gets the opportunity to choose the education the child needs, however, not only does the child blossom but the educational experience is tailored to fit the needs of the child, giving them a better advantage. Take, for instance, a magnet school that focuses on engineering. A child may do well in a traditional public school, he/she may get good grades and may even be engaged in the classroom. Send that same kid who is in love with how things work to a magnet school that focuses on engineering and the engagement is almost unimaginable. The school allows engineering and STEM to touch everything, from English to Physics. This, in turn allows the child to see the importance of each subject but also it allows the child focus their energy in a way that lights them up and becomes their passion. The difference in taking a physics class and being immersed in a school where every subject links back to something that is a passion……. It just can’t be measured.
Not from Florida? Find your state School Choice options here
Isn’t “School Choice” Just for the Privileged?
Actually, no. Having the ability to choose the school where your child will excel at is a choice all humans should be allowed to decide, no matter your social economic background, your zip code, or your interests. When we are given a choice in education, especially when many of those choices fall under the umbrella of “Public” it allows citizens the ability to live in one area but learn in a classroom that will fit the child’s needs. Are their setbacks? Of course. I am not naive to believe in utopian ideals of education. There are charter schools who have closed because the education was lacking. There are magnet schools that get filled and the lottery leaves families out. Many of these schools can offer no bus system and therefore leave out children who could attend because they do not have transportation to the school. I understand there is bureaucratic red tape and funding issues and all sorts of other problems. At the same time, I just can’t help but get excited when I see a student uniform for a school they chose. Private schools many times have scholarships. In the state of Florida, there are grants may families of lower income can apply for to allow their children the opportunity to attend a private school. Giving parents a choice in education empowers them and allows them to be more involved in their child’s education.
Isn’t This All Just One Big Cry Against Traditional Public Schools?
No, I don’t believe it does. Many public school classrooms are crowded and teachers have to work extra hard to ensure students do not fall through the cracks. Even with as caring and engaged as many teachers are, students still get left behind in their education. Giving parents the ability to choose, helps children not to fall through the cracks. Case in point: Several years ago in Jacksonville, a charter school opened up that was specifically targeted towards dyslexic students. That is a pretty small sect of the education community. When it first opened, it didn’t have many kids and the school was thought to be too narrow in its field. However, several years later, it has helped so many children, mainly boys, with their unique educational needs. They understand dyslexia and the many forms it takes. The school is tailored to help students where the traditional public school can not. The same can be said for school tailored to children with hearing impairments. My son went to one such school in San Antonio, Texas. He was born with hearing issues and is considered HOH. His classroom had students who wore hearing aids and cochlear implants to hearing students who just attended. It brought an exclusivity to the classroom a traditional public school wouldn’t have been able to.
How Can I participate?
School Choice Week runs every January. This year, it is January 20-26. You can participate by something simple like taking a picture of your kiddo on their way to the school of your choice. Or post fun facts about your school on social media and use the hashtags #SchoolChoice and #NSCW2019. You can also prepare for next year by going to the National School Choice Week website and applying for your free box of goodies. You can even plan an event and use their tips and tricks to make it as fun as possible. We are having a little party with our homeschool group, holding signs that say why we love our choice in school and having cupcakes. Nothing big and fancy, just kids and parents excited about their education.
I hope that learning about School Choice Week has helped you start your own journey for your kids in tailoring their education. All children deserve to have an amazing education.
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