Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Parent Empowerment at Work in the Grand Canyon State

Here at School Choice Now!, we have a singular goal of kids being in the best school possible—whether that school is a private school, a charter school, or a traditional public school.  Parents, especially those from low-income families, should be empowered to choose what school they think will best prepare their child for a successful life. 

And research shows that parents are very satisfied when they get to choose where their children should go: just look at Louisiana, where four consecutive surveys on the voucher program show parental satisfaction rates of over 90 percent, and at Florida, where 95.4 percent of parents participating in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship rated their schools as “excellent” or “good.”

But it's not just the numbers that speak to the value of school choice. The stories do, too.

One recent story, from a reporter writing for Arizona's East Valley Tribune, tells of how she exercised her educational options not in her role as a reporter, but as a mother:

Earlier this month, I did something I've said I was going to do for a long time: I took a tour of a charter school as a PARENT, not as a reporter.

Why? Let's just say I'm an over thinker. My kids are doing great at their school - our neighborhood district school. But I keep hearing and talking to people about this charter school and I wanted to go in with a different set of eyes.

Michelle Reese, the reporter and mother of three, is happy with her traditional neighborhood school, but wanted to take a look around. And, living in Arizona, Reese has lots of options.

Arizona has public school choice, private school choice (with three scholarship tax credit programs and one education savings account program), charter schools, and homeschooling options.

In Reese’s ZIP code alone, there are 85 different elementary schools: 47 public schools, 24 charter schools, and 10 private schools. 

So what did she end up doing?

I choose to send my kids to my neighborhood school. We've been there for years, though each spring I do debate other options (just ask my husband and friends who hear about it over and over). Why? Because I can. Because I want my kids to be getting the best education possible. Just last year, I really struggled with where to send my middle child, not because I wasn't happy with our school, but because I knew a Spanish dual language program was opening up not far from us and she wants to learn Spanish.

Because when it comes down to it, school choice is about ensuring that all children have access to a great education that works for them—no matter what type of school that is.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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