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My Take on National School Choice Week
posted by: Garry | January 30, 2015, 05:13 PM   


This week is National School Choice Week.  In its fifth year, this grassroots movement of events and rallies has been instrumental in bringing educational options front and center.  Why is school choice needed?  It highlights the aspect of choice for parents seeking the best educational option for their child. As a dad myself, I believe parent’s know what is best for their own children.  And as a life-long educator, choice can be instrumental in providing teachers with professional choices as well.


I spent 33 years as a public school teacher and coach at Riley County High School, Riley, KS.  For many years while at Riley County our district participated in a form of school choice known as open enrollment.  What open enrollment allowed was the option for parents outside the district boundaries to enroll their child in our school as an alternative to their own district high school.


It was obvious that many parents wanted their child to attend a smaller, successful and educationally sound school and many took advantage of the program.  I was proud to be part of an institution that provided a fantastic well-rounded educational environment with a strong reputation in the state of Kansas.


Riley County’s open enrollment policy meant opportunity and success for many of the students who took advantage.  One of these students went on to Princeton while competing in track & field, one went on to an appointment at West Point and others have gone on to run cross country and track & field collegiately.  Another has started medical school and another is working in a collegiate athletic administration program.  The sky is the limit for students thriving in schools that work for them.


I believe the key to school choice is parental involvement and the ability to select a school where a child can succeed.  Excellent schools will attract quality students because that’s where parents want to send them.  It doesn’t matter if it is a public school, a religious school, a public charter school or a school that provides virtual education.  Quality education is all about what’s best for the students.


As an educator and now Executive Director of the Kansas Association of American Educators, I know that school choice also means options for teachers.  Allowing different educational options for teachers provides flexibility and choice so these educators can fit into what is best for their situation.  I just spoke to a KANAAE member who left their district school and is now providing excellent science education via an online school.  It’s refreshing to think that school choice can provide teachers with new and exciting opportunities.


School choice is fantastic!  When everyone is given the choice as to what educational opportunity is best for them, educational quality improves.  Isn’t that what a quality education should be about?

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