I’ve spent my entire professional life working in K-12 education, the majority of it in Florida and Tennessee – two states with a strong emphasis on school choice. Most recently, we lived in Illinois and, despite the entrenched teacher’s union, there is still a healthy charter school system providing options to parents.
As a parent, it’s wonderful to know that, if you feel a Montessori school fits your child’s learning style best, or if you are really passionate about bilingual education or STEM education, you can find a school that really works for your child without the associated price tag of a private school education.
We moved here to Virginia to be closer to family and the absence of options for parents has been alarming to me. I’ve talked to other parents who can’t afford a private education and don’t have the option of charter or magnet school programs for their children. They just have to cross their fingers, send their children to their zoned public school, and try to deal with those aspects that don’t work as well for the child’s individualized needs.
We are lucky enough to be able to provide a private school education for our son – but not everyone is in this situation, unfortunately.
I’m hopeful that Virginia’s leadership will see the value of providing parents with educational options for their students. States like Florida have led the way in the school choice arena and provide an amazing model for others to follow. They also serve as proof that charter and public schools can coexist in a way that does not harm or dismantle the education system.
Parents know their children best. When they get to choose an education that best fits their children, the children benefit. When states provide school choice, the kids are the clear winners.
Heather Peltier, Ph.D.