You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Editorial: Tips for finding the right school for your child
By Andrew Campanella
If you’d like to send your child to a different school next year, now’s the time to start the process of researching your options.
As Texas prepares to commemorate National School Choice Week later this month at 460 events across the state, many parents will begin evaluating the educational opportunities that are available for their children.
Believe it or not, seats in schools are already beginning to fill up for the 2014-15 school year. Interest in school choice -- the process of actively choosing a public, charter, magnet, private, or online school -- is high. That means that waiting until the spring or the summer to begin researching schools for your children could restrict your options.
No handbook or tip sheet can truly guide parents through the entire process of selecting a school, because choosing schools is an individual experience that will be unique to every family.
However, parents can start by making a list of the attributes that they hope to find in an ideal school. Ask yourself: What’s most important to you and to the academic, social, and emotional well-being of your child? Is it the academic performance of a school, school safety, the instructional methods, the qualifications of teachers, the school’s educational theme, a school’s shared values, or other factors?
Once you’ve identified what matters most, start looking into the options available to you. In addition to the local public school, you may be eligible to send your child to a school outside of your ZIP code, or in a different school district. Look into nearby charter schools and magnet schools. Don’t leave private and faith-based schools off your list! You might be able to find scholarships to cover the costs of tuition. And for some families, online learning and homeschooling work best.
To find the options available to you, look at information from the Texas Department of Education, as well as information on state-based education reform or school choice organization websites. For states with charter and magnet schools, there are often state-based associations that provide directories of these types of schools, along with application information. Private schools and scholarship programs can be researched through state chapters of the Council on American Private Education or the National Association of Independent Schools, or through local places of worship (for faith-based schools).
For a directory of most schools in your area, along with parent rankings and some performance metrics, parents can visit greatschools.org.
With your list of requirements and your list of schools in hand, start making appointments to visit the schools. Ask to sit in on classes, and make sure to ask as many questions as possible of teachers, the administration, and support staff. You’ll want to find out what motivates the adults in the building, while also seeing how the students in the classes respond to their teachers. Ask yourself: Is this a place where I’d want to send my child for most of his or her weekday waking hours?
Finally, make sure to talk with other parents -- and to your own children. Ask parents how the schools’ administrators treat parents, and whether they welcome, or discourage, parental involvement. And most importantly, ask your children about their perceptions of the schools that you’ve visited. Find out what excites and motivates your child at school, but also ask about their worries, concerns, and apprehensions.
Making the decision to change schools certainly isn’t easy. And switching schools isn’t a piece of cake, either. But if you start now, and plan out the journey, you’ll find that the destination -- a great school for your child -- is well worth the diligence and effort.
Andrew R. Campanella is the president of National School Choice Week.
Your Opinions and Comments
7th Generation La Vernian
January 28, 2014 10:33am
Share your comment or opinion on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Section A: General News Archives
Brownlow: Little chance ‘fracking’ could hurt water (September 2, 2015)
City’s proposed budget, property taxes raise questions (September 2, 2015)
County Commisioners ‘buckle up’ on $24M budget (September 2, 2015)
Court Update (September 2, 2015)
De Leon family sells Olivia’s San Antonio location (September 2, 2015)
Distracted driving program new requirement for teens (September 2, 2015)
Editorial: Coca-Cola to obese people: Hey, exercise more! (September 2, 2015)
Editorial: How will voters sort through all the candidates? (September 2, 2015)
Editorial: Libs: Symbols mean something — unless we disagree (September 2, 2015)
Floresville awards contract for event center repairs (September 2, 2015)
Floresville elections take twists (September 2, 2015)
Floresville struggles to ‘play ball’ (September 2, 2015)
Free webinar series for small businesses (September 2, 2015)
From student job to interim manager (September 2, 2015)
Karnes airport gets $2.1M in funding (September 2, 2015)
Labor Day office closures (September 2, 2015)
Letter: Karnes County officials continue spending (September 2, 2015)
Letter: Urgent: Nix Iran deal (September 2, 2015)
Letter: Voter ID thumbprint (September 2, 2015)
Make your way to Feather Fest (September 2, 2015)
MedDropSA is Sept. 5 (September 2, 2015)
Meeting Watch: East Central ISD (September 2, 2015)
Oscar Mayer issues recall (September 2, 2015)
Paid firefighters could aid La Vernia volunteers (September 2, 2015)
Police Blotter (September 2, 2015)
Register to compete in Adult Literacy challenge (September 2, 2015)
Relay committee to meet Sept. 8 (September 2, 2015)
SARA approves study of Floresville’s River Park (September 2, 2015)
Sponsors needed for Conversation with Constitution event (September 2, 2015)
Stockdale council approves $2.07M 2015-16 budget (September 2, 2015)
Substitute teacher training dates set (September 2, 2015)
TEA lauds Falls City, Poth (September 2, 2015)
The best medicine (September 2, 2015)
VA cuts backlog (September 2, 2015)
Welcome back! (September 2, 2015)