School of choice is a hot topic in political venues these days. From a teaching perspective it is cannibalizing our public education system. Student populations can swing drastically from year to year as districts spend money on marketing campaigns instead of in the classrooms. Creating unstable budgets and high teacher turnovers all in the name of choice. Recent studies in Michigan show that more than half of the school of choice students end up moving again. Is school of choice making the best educational system for ALL of our students?
Wasn’t a choice already made
Most parents make their school choice when deciding where to live. Real Estate brokers use the public school systems to market homes, apartment complexes proudly advertise the district where residents attend. Every friend I know took the public school system into consideration when choosing where to live. The decision is predominately made based upon test data and state ranking date. Do these numbers tell the true story of a school? No always, so of course many make a drive by of the community school to make a visual assessment and talk to parents who have children in the schools. After all this research housing choice is made that doubles as a school choice. As a resident of the community, parents will have a vested interest in maintaining quality schools.
What if the community changes and schools slip? or Parents can afford to live where they really want to?
The REAL choice
Schools need parent involvement. Parents can’t just expect a district to have top-notch everything. They need to make the CHOICE to get involve in the school not abandon it. Communities need to rally around their school, asking what they can do to make student achievement happen. Instead school of choice has created a “its not problem, I will go elsewhere” attitude. Schools need parents in every aspect of the education process. From being on PTA to sitting on the district improvement team. Parents can coach sports teams, be hall monitors, and volunteer in the classroom.
It makes me sick when I see school of choice ads. Money that should be spent on students and learning is wasted to sell the dream that the grass is greener on the other side of the tracks. Pretty much same school just different zip code. Parents need to stop buying into this fade. Legislators need to end the concept as it exists today. Choice should be more about instructional practices not social economics.