Why Are We Not Considered Smart Enough To Choose Our Child’s School?

School Choice
I never understood what the big deal was about being able to choose in so many areas of our life, but not the future of our children?

I can choose whether or not to continue my pregnancy. The country is finally moving toward allowing me to decide who I will marry. I can choose to work a minimum wage job until my knowledge, skills and abilities prepare me for a higher paying one.  I can choose who to vote for or what faith fills the aching in my soul. There are certain limitations on some of these choices, but people have fought for our ability to choose.

Why is it then, unless I have a lot of money, I don’t have a choice in where to send my children to school? We all pay for public education and it has been a system that served us well over the years, but it’s time to reconsider the options. We are  falling behind other countries in the education of our children.

I’ve heard the concerns about private schools being unwilling or unable to accommodate children with special needs or those coming from families with severe economic challenges. Separation of church and state has always been part of the argument since “the government” should not financially support religious organizations.

However, what we are doing, in many cases, is not working. As a parent, I should be able to choose where I send my child to school and have a voucher to make that happen. Schools that are part of the voucher program should be required to have programs available for students with special challenges. Wouldn’t parents of special needs children like options, too? If I, as a parent, want my child to attend a faith based school, I should have that choice. Not all children learn the same way and we need to have the ability to select the school that best fits the individual needs of our child, not only those that meet the needs of the majority, leaving others behind.

We can make this option work for ourselves, our children and our dedicated educational professionals. It’s not about preserving the status quo, it’s about giving our children a solid foundation for their future. It’s a BIG DEAL and we should get over the politics and put the needs of our children first.

donofalltrades

I don’t understand the argument here. Do faith based schools offer scholarships or discounts or whatever in certain situations? They should, if faith is truly more important than finances. My boy goes to a Catholic preschool because we can’t send him to the public school since the cost of aftercare makes it prohibitive. Where I am, the public school in the city is failing miserably, and the police officers and fire fighters used to have to live inside the city limits. Most people paid to send their kids to private Catholic schools, because the public schools simply weren’t an option. A friend of mine had a special needs daughter (Cystic Fibrosis) and nobody would make an exception to allow her to go to school in a better district where her needs could be met, so he eventually got fired for moving outside the district on her behalf. It was sad.

Michelle AKA Dribbles and Grits

I totally agree. I think not only should education be a choice, but we need better public options. The public school system is so broken it doesn’t seem fixable, and worse? Nobody really seems to care to fix it but a small handful of people like us.

jasteck

I believe there are scholarships at many schools, Don, but they can only accommodate so many children. That’s tragic about your friend and his daughter. We used to have a residency requirement as well. Thank goodness it no longer is required. I hope the daughter is doing well. We do need answers that benefit all the people involved.

jasteck

It’s true, Michelle. The system is broken in lots of ways. There are incredible teachers and administrators stuck in a difficult system. How do we work on a solution that is best for our kids and make a great working environment for the people invested in making a difference?

Kristi Campbell

HERE HERE!! HEAR HEAR!!
I’ve been told – I can’t say how many times, but a lot – that I am not allowed to “shop” schools, only the programs within each school. Well how am I supposed to choose one if I’m not allowed to see them all? To compare teachers, and a fit? This is a very close subject to my heart and you NAILED it with how you describe the craziness of having to be wealthy to get what we need for our kids. It’s NUTS and drives me crazy. Something needs to be done on a federal level as well. The fact that in my own county, that there are schools with programs good for my kid and schools that do not have them is just not right. That special education funding is not mandated for the needs of the kids is horrible. Ugh. Sorry, I’ll stop now before I write a whole blog post on your blog post. But it IS wrong and I just want 10M dollars to start the best school in the world. xo

jasteck

We seem to be settling for mediocre, Kristi, instead of expecting excellence. I know testing is a huge dilemma, but how else can we evaluate how our children and the schools are doing? Is it possible only after the fact when they take SAT tests, have to take remedial classes when they start college or when they finish school reading far below grade level? Not everyone can home school or pay for private schools. The cost of not doing something now will be so much greater in the future. It’s frightening and so unfair to our kids.

Kerith Stull

I totally agree! Vouchers make so much more sense. Competition usually help raise the bar on quality and value. Why wouldn’t vouchers do the same? Now for the big question… How do we (as just “regular folk”) help make it happen??? (Visiting from FTSF)

Tarana

I think every child deserves to have the kind of education he or she needs, and it should be affordable for the parents as well. Wherever good education is measured in money, something is wrong with the system.

Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly

I definitely see your point, Jennifer. We parents all (or most of us) want the best for our children. And I agree that the public school system in the U.S. is lacking gravely. Having enjoyed schooling in Germany, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing while working as a para-ed in the U.S. But I wonder whether the voucher system is the right way out. If, besides paying for the regular operating costs of public schools, the government has to hand out tons of vouchers for the higher-quality private schools, this will leave less money for the public schools, so their quality is further decreasing. Why not try to improve the public schools instead and provide more options and better programs for everyone there?

jasteck

That’s a great question, Kerith. I’m not quite sure where we begin other than to keep voicing our opinions in public forums and supporting organizations who are working towards this end.

jasteck

When I was a child, I attended Catholic school until my mother could no longer pay for it. I moved to public school in sixth grade and was so far ahead of the teaching that I coasted for the first year at least. I’m not sure if the voucher system is the right way, Stephanie, but it seems as though we’ve been trying to “fix” the public school system for so long with no measurable results in many cases. Schools receive funding based on the number of students in attendance. If there aren’t so many students in the classroom, there can be fewer teachers, books, computers, etc. The per student payment would then go to the private school. It’s not double the cost, but the same money being paid elsewhere. I think we should allow communities to decide for themselves instead of having the federal government decide how our children get educated based on campaign contributions. I know there are incredible public schools across the country and thousands of amazing and dedicated teachers. We need to give every child an opportunity to experience that type of learning.

allison

What an interesting post. When we moved we picked a house that would be near a school we would be proud to be a part of. Which is quite privleged in some ways since we had the resorces to move. But we are petitioning the principal next year to make sure we get a certain teacher. There are ways, I guess, to affect your child’s education even within a public school system but you are right: you don’t get to choose.

jasteck

I admire you commitment to your child’s education, Allison. I hope you are successful in getting the “right” teacher. I’m not sure how we improve the system to the level where there are more “right” teachers and schools, but I believe by creating more options and yes, competition. Schools will improve or be revamped if no one sends their children to a failing school.

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