As a parent, you have the right, no, the obligation, to search out the best schooling options for your children. That is where the discussion of school choice should rest. Too often, the narrative around school choice is framed in a way that allows school systems to dominate the conversation without taking into account the day to day impact schooling has on families. In it’s most authentic form, school choice for parents is about finding a place that offers services, programs and rigor that matches the needs of their children and families.
It is not the fault of families that funding for education is flawed and pulling kids out of boundary schools means that school system loses funds. That reality should be the least of a parent’s concerns around what is best for their children. The truth of the matter is, too often educational institutions hold the best interest of students and families hostage with their budgets in mind.
At this point in the juncture, we know that charter schools are not going away and traditional public schools sorely need reform. What is counterproductive is high-level conversations that lack any substantive input or consideration for what school choice looks like for parents. Even the notion that parents would prefer convenience over what is best for their children is faulty. If the best your school has to offer is proximity, then you are giving parents the illusion of choice. It is not so much that parents don’t want to have to drive further than they should or put their kids on a bus, it’s the fact that parents will do what is best for their children, even if that means going out of their way to do so. So if traditional public schools want to do what’s best for families, they need to be nimble and respond to the needs of students and families above all else or get out of the way of parents who seek out the best option for their kids.