School Choice?

Lateefah Fatunbi

I fully support school choice, but here is what I mean. Parents should have the choice of which school within the public school system they want to send their children to. Parents should have the choice of sending their children to a private school instead of a public school. This is not to say that I support private school vouchers. Tax-supported public schools are available to everyone.
Someone’s choice not to take advantage of public education does not obligate contribution to their child’s private school education. Over the years, we have seen how some of our city’s families remained closed off from the opportunities that choices people say are designed to benefit them. Language, literacy, and special-education challenges arise and require hands-on support to be addressed, such as translation services or personalized school recommendations.
Parents need connections. They need to feel that someone is on their side, helping them out, cheering them on. They sometimes need a strong hand to reach out to, fill in the information gaps, and help them to set priorities for choosing schools and support them to build confidence in their own decisions for their children.
While school choice offers many families an escape from struggling schools, supporting parents who exercise choice will require much more than a list of schools. If advocates for school choice are serious about ensuring that all families can benefit from the expansion of new schooling options, they need to do much more to make sure that students and families can navigate an increasingly complex system of public schools.