When we moved into our new home a few years ago, I considered everything under the sun to avoid changing my children’s school.
Our experience with our zoned public school had been excellent. But even though we were moving to a wonderful neighborhood, the public school we would now be zoned for was a below average school with negative reviews from our new neighbors.
As a mom, I yearned for another option. But I was fortunate that the school district accepted our transfer request to remain in the same school so long as we resided within the same county.
We were some of the very few lucky ones. In the 2018-2019 school year, less than 3% of students successfully transferred between school districts.
So, win for us, right? Not so much.
The next school year started after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. My kids, eager to return to their school, ended up on zoom for up to seven hours a day. When they did get to return to the classroom, mask mandates and social distancing grew heavy on their little hearts and minds. Even as our school district lost good teachers and staff members to pandemic burnout, parents became increasingly aware the effect the pandemic had on our children.
We were disappointed in the quality of education our kids were getting. As we started to think about new options, we had a stroke of luck—we found out a charter school was coming to our neighborhood. Suddenly, I had a choice on where to send my kids.
But not all parents are so lucky. Charter schools only serve 7% of Texas students, and nearly 66,000 students are waitlisted annually.
All parents in Texas deserve the right to choose the school that best fits the needs of their child. That is what the Texas Legislature is fighting for during this legislative session, and that is what every parent can support.
I am fortunate in that at the same time my local charter school opened, so did a new public school in our neighborhood. Families that attend this school hold it in high regard, and students are succeeding.
I appreciate knowing that if our charter ends up not working for our students, we’ve got a good public school in our zone that is focused on meeting the needs of students, not the demand of social trends.
So long as schools focus on education and student comprehension and improvement, they will have families that want to be enrolled there, thus remaining in business.
But while my neighbors and I have a choice, many don’t. They might not have a charter school nearby or may have been waitlisted for one. Magnet schools, what few there are, accept incredibly low numbers of students.
Every student deserves to attend a safe, thriving school that meets their needs. Education is not one size fits all, and even a successful, passing school may not provide a program that works for every single child.
By passing parental choice legislation, families from every background will be empowered to find the best educational option for their children. Low-income families will have more freedom to choose the school that works, not the school that a district restricts them to because of their zip code.
In turn, students will be in a school that is best suited for them. Leading to improved math, writing, and reading scores and higher graduation rates.
Had my children not been approved for their transfer, like many don’t, they would have been subject to attending a below average school. That will not be the case for anyone when Texas unleashes educational empowerment for parents and students.
My tax dollars will fund parental choice, not failing schools that funnel too much money into administrative pay and golden parachutes. Schools that incorporate inappropriate race-based programs that promote racism and programs that avail to sexual exploitation in the classroom will be held accountable.
The time for parents to take the lead in their child’s education is now. Texas will fund students, not systems.