Remember the days when you had to go to the school that was closer to your place of residence, and if you wanted to attend a different school, you needed to move. What if you were able to choose your own school within your county? Now, many states throughout the country give both student and parent the right to choose their own school. Their decision can range from other public schools, charter and magnet schools, online schools, and homeschooling. However, in the locales where school choice is offered, does everyone actually get to choose?
How is school performance measured?
The wealthy get to choose. There are programs to receive scholarships for moderate to low income families, but only half of these families actually get to go to what they believe to be better performing schools. What parents do not often understand is that they do not truly know what schools are performing better. For many exit exams, principals and guidance counselors will force teachers to “help” students on these exams in order for teachers to remain employed. Are you really paying for a better education by attending a private school? Statistically, private schools and public schools are relatively equal, but what performance is actually being measured? Are students being measured on tests only? Are teachers being measured only by their grading system or by an evaluation of what a principal sees twice per year? All variables of measurements are flawed, so why should there be school choice?
Really choosing your school
Despite popular belief from our bureaucracy, school choice should not be about what schools perform better, but what schools have to offer that you, the student, wants. Maybe you are a good football player and a school just started a new team and you want to join this team because you have a better chance of more playtime. Another school may be deemed an Academy school where there are many classes that teach you occupations, such as nursing, mechanics, journalism, etc… Or maybe you know a language teacher where students almost always excel in the given language. A student may want to be homeschooled because she gets picked on by other students and is afraid to speak up. Learning online may help students become more self-taught with better reading skills. As a whole, bureaucrats and the media try to over exemplify overall performance in certain schools.
Helping poverty schools
Generally, poor performing schools lie within the poverty areas of society. These schools are habitually low performing because of “labeling” and everyone expects it. Therefore, no one wants to choose these schools. “All the gangs or bad kids go there,” might be something you hear. Instead of these schools receiving help and understanding student needs, they receive negative comments and reviews even if the teachers and students have made enormous progress. Any student can perform well in any school with the right teacher. A teacher just needs excellent classroom management skills and yes, the teacher needs to get the students to like her. Students always perform better with likable teachers. School choice is the right idea, but it is about how and why you choose a particular school. Now, if you could just choose your teacher.