Our director of community programs, Sarah Pechan, was on vacation in Arizona this summer and found the whole state buzzing about the issue of school choice. She shares some of the perspective of parents she met while rafting through the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River.
As I was getting to know my fellow rafters on the Colorado River and fellow hikers in the Grand Canyon, I was surprised by the number of Arizona parents who shared their personal experiences when they heard that I work in the arena of school choice. It was pretty incredible and encouraging to hear so I wanted to share just a couple of their stories with you:
- Heidi, a former park ranger, lit up when I mentioned school choice. Her daughter Megan is in 8th grade at a charter school. This is her first year at the school and the first year in her academic career that a school has both pushed Megan to achieve more and given her the support she needs for her dyslexia. Heidi said she has been amazed at how the higher expectations at the charter school have engaged her daughter, who was really starting to hate school. Now Megan is excited about school and pushing herself to rise to the higher standards.
But I couldn’t blame her when she said that she and her husband are pulling Megan out of this school next year because the hours and hours of nightly homework don’t leave time for Megan to pursue her interests in theater.
- Jake, a river guide, said he saw a night and day difference in his son after he started attending a Montessori-style charter school this year. His 5th-grader went from having nothing to say about school for the first 5 years of his education to now being really excited to share what he has learned every day. Jake is thrilled and said the Montessori approach was just the right one for his son.
All of the work we do at a policy level is to simply make a way for these types of stories. To borrow a river analogy, advocates and legislators are working upstream to make sure the resources, laws, and flexibility are available to create better opportunities for students. The real magic is at the student level: education entrepreneurs working hard to grow quality, creative schools, parents taking the initiative to explore their options and find the best fit for their child, and students making the most of the privilege of an education.
These stories from across the country echo stories that we hear right here in Ohio all the time. They are such beautiful stories of all of us winning because of the options that are available to families.
Another education/school choice issue that came up a lot was skill-based, hands-on education. I’ll talk more about that later in the week. Stay tuned!