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Monday, 21 January 2019 21:32

Schools ‘that fit’ Week

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It wouldn’t be hard to look at the 2019 calendar, see that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falls during National School Choice Week, and incorporate beautifully accurate and still timely quotes to suggest that his message of civil rights included educational rights – specifically school choice rights. I get it. That’s exactly what I set out to do. Many of us truly believe the educational advantages of the wealthy, the privileged, top 10%, whatever you want to call them, should be available to everyone when it comes to parental choice. Many home buyers select homes based on their ‘good’ school districts. Some make the financial decision, even the financial sacrifice, to send children to private schools. What about that magnet school your son or daughter is qualified to attend? Aren’t you going to apply and take advantage of that public school option? And don’t forget the tutors we might seek out to give our children every advantage when it comes to their education. These are decisions many of us weigh.

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I’ve worked in the education reform movement for more than ten years, primarily with charter schools.  I’ve personally witnessed the power of a school when it fits the child. I have read the data that indicates traditional public schools strive to ‘up’ their game when a charter school is an option for families. I see the stats that tell us children in urban charter schools are more likely to graduate than their non-charter peers. However, I might suggest, that a charter school offering a classical education might be an ill fit for the child who naturally leans toward the arts. A school with an emphasis on sports and movement that some children would find absolutely thrilling, may not be best suited for the STEM-driven students who cheer with excitement when the science fair dates are announced. The mother who sees her son or daughter struggling in one environment due to a learning challenge, later finds hope through a school that specializes in that diagnosis as well as a special needs scholarship to help with the costs. These are just a few examples of “fit” as well as choice.

 

There are so many stories of success and reasons to celebrate this week of school choice.  Then, in just a few short months, we will hear about all the scholars who are graduating high school with plans and paths for their futures. Many will be first generation college students and fortunately for them, high schools today realize that getting into college isn’t enough; they now extend additional support to help these students all the way through college.

You see, it’s not just money, it’s fit. That is why families may select an independent school even when the neighborhood school is a ‘great’ school. That is why a family may decide to pursue a magnet school if their child qualifies. Some cities and areas provide the option to go to any school in the district just in case the one they are zoned for isn’t the right fit. Perhaps we should call this Schools ‘that fit’ Week instead of National School Choice Week. Let’s support the visionary founders, administrators, and teachers dedicated to meeting the needs of students across the country as they create the best possible learning environment for them.

 

“The time is always right to do what is right” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


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Melissa Pratt

Professional Programs Manager

Melissa Pratt is the professional programs manager in AAE’s Washington D.C. office. In this role, Melissa assists with a wide variety of projects, including office management, specialty recruiting programs, and research. Melissa also spearheads professional development initiatives and oversees the AAE Foundation National Teacher Scholarship & Classroom Grant program.

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