#1 Most Asked About Change: School Choice

In an interview with Eyewitness News ABC7, Los Angeles, Superintendent, Michelle King said that the most asked about change from both parents and students is school choice. That’s powerful, “the need and desire for a high-quality education is at the forefront of people’s minds.”

School choice is important.

The student population of the Los Angeles Unified School District is 732,833, making it the second largest school district in the country. Many of those students are living in poverty. And poverty adversely affects the amount of quality schools in your neighborhood, if they exist there at all. The reality is that there are poor schools in poor neighborhoods. Poor children are not given the same high-quality education that children from affluent neighborhoods are given, and certainly not ever without a struggle from parents. Yet, poor kids are expected to compete on the same level with other (more educated) kids for spots in college, in the job market, and in all other aspects of life. We are not preparing ALL children across all city and state lines with the same level of education. All children are not being given the same opportunity to live rich and productive lives. The fact of the matter is that the financial hardship of a family should not hinder a child’s right to a high- quality education, regardless of their neighboring school district. Although poverty isn’t the sole reason for failing, it is a major contributor. All children should have access to a quality education. Which is why school choice is important.

Long waiting lists at good schools provoke tears.

Parents should have a default right to take control of their children’s academic future and a default right to pick the school that is the best fit for their child. There are financial factors and dividers that exist between school districts that separate the quality of education that is offered from one student to the next. Although it seems incomprehensible, minority students in poor neighborhoods get placed on waiting lists for a chance to attend a high performing school. Keep in mind, poor neighborhoods don’t have a flood of good schools with one being the exceptional one. No! Poor neighborhoods have very low performing schools, with one being the “good school or high- performing school,” which explains the incredibly long waiting lists at those good schools. All parents are eager to give their children more. Parents are trying to improve the quality of their children’s lives. Meanwhile, most students who get placed on waiting lists have no other choice but to attend low performing schools in their local neighborhoods, while they wait to be called. It’s a heartbreaking experience for parents and students old enough to comprehend the meaning of it. For parents, being placed on a waiting list means their children will not get the benefit of a quality education which decreases their opportunities for success. This enormous disappointment has caused tears for some of my friends.

Waiting lists won’t do because every year matters in academics.

Every student deserves a great education, from beginning to end with no waiting lists or years spent at a low performing school. As a mother whose daughter got set a year behind in first grade, I know that it can take years for a child to catch up. Time matters a great deal in academics. The further a child falls behind the harder it can be for him to catch up to his peers. Also kids who fall behind academically tend to need more services beyond their school teachers. These children might need other kinds of professional help because of issues like low self esteem, depression, and lack of motivation.

Education is key.

“Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students”. Solomon Ortiz

Until the quality of education across all dividers is equal for ALL students, education options must be offered to families who are being hindered by poverty. The choice to pick your child’s school or reform an existing failing school, whatever school choice will benefit a child’s education should be available for all parents. What could the future of a student living in poverty but attending a top school look like? Having the support and push of a top school or a high achieving school that responds to student needs could mean the difference between succeeding or falling through the cracks for a poor child. We can’t brush poverty under the rug, and school choice isn’t a quick fix for children living in poverty. There is a lot that needs to be addressed for the overall well-being of a child. We can, however, increase equality in education and the opportunity for every child to succeed through school choice.

Keep SCHOOL CHOICE at the forefront of education reform.

For parents, wanting to provide a fair opportunity for their child to succeed and for students who want to break a cycle of struggle and impoverishment, school choice is crucial. It should be at the forefront of education reform until every child has access to a high-quality education.

What do you think?

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Monica Luna Gonzalez

Monica Luna Gonzalez

Monica Luna Gonzalez is a mom of two children. Her oldest is a high school senior and her youngest is not quite ready for school- he prefers the sandbox these days. She was a teen mom who graduated from Bell High School despite the challenges that came from being a teen mom. She wishes she would have been prepared for college right after high school which is why she wants to help other Latinas improve their children's chances for a better education. She is a non-traditional college student as she returned to college 18 years after graduating from high school.

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