I, like many other parents, want the best for our children. I want my children to be healthy, safe, and very high on my list is well educated in a diverse setting where they can interact with people of all backgrounds and ethnicities.
When I began to research where my now seniors in high school would go to kindergarten I found out, it wasn't that cut and dry. There were a lot of challenges to providing the education I wanted for my children.
First off I was poor and I was a full time student. I quickly learned that not only did the places I could afford to live had failing schools, they had been failing for years. All the best schools were in the suburbs or private schools, neither of which were options for my family.
The second thing I found was a lack of diversity. The great majority of schools were either predominantly Caucasian or African American. Diverse schools just weren't a reality.
Last but not least I had two five year olds who were as different as night and day. I wanted a school that could meet both of their very different needs. My daughter was eager to please and loved preschool and was at the head of her class, but her twin brother wasn't very interested in preschool and took a little longer to catch on to several things.
I could not offer my children a quality education. Like many parents in poor and minority communities across the country, I felt trapped. How could I send my children into a failing system and expect success?
It wasn't until I read a local newspaper article that I felt hope. It was an article about charter schools, a public tuition free option. I researched several charter schools and eventually entered my children into lotteries for the ones I thought would be a good fit for our family.
They were accepted to our top choice. It was a school that was diverse, had a challenging curriculum with lots of opportunity for extra help, offered bus service, extracurricular activities, and test scores that were improving every year.
My choice to send my children to a charter school was to give them a chance. I knew the traditional school options had failed and continued to fail the children in our community. I strongly believe all children can and will learn, even my poor minority children who were born to a single mother on welfare.
Their education has been a journey of choice. They were not just funneled to the next school in their zip code regardless of whether or not it was a good fit for them. Because of school choice, I was able to choose from a variety of public, private voucher school, and charter school options.
It has been exciting to watch my son and daughter receive college acceptance letters these last few weeks. I have no doubt my opportunity to chose schools that were best for them played a huge part in their success.
Having the freedom to chose a school that was a good fit for our family has made all the difference. Quality education is a civil right; it should not be attached to your zip code or economic status.