GUEST VIEW: School choice means families choose

By Daily News • Last Updated 1:59 pm on Thursday, January 30, 2014

Guest View | Victoria Simon

Do you want the best for your child? It seems every parent does. Every family wants children to be healthy, be happy and feel loved. Parents wants their children to have opportunities to succeed.

To have healthy children, one family serves a homemade meat and potatoes dinner every night. Another family serves organic, vegetarian dishes. Still another family thrives on convenience foods and fast food. If all parents want healthy children, then why don’t they all feed their children the same food?

Some parents sign their children up for Little League or dance classes while others choose Boy and Girl Scouts or youth groups. Some families attend church together every Sunday and some children go to summer camp annually. Some children have swim lessons, are in a chess club, go hunting, take violin, play tennis, learn martial arts, go golfing or learn to knit. There are families who choose to opt out of scheduled activities altogether. If all families want their children to succeed, then why aren’t all parents signing their children up for the same activities?

If all families want what is best, then why are there so many differences in the way families in our community raise their children? Because every child has individual needs. Because every family has its own set of values. Because every student has his or her own set of goals. Because what is best for your child may or may not be what is best for mine.

Embracing individual needs is why school choice is so important. We are fortunate in our rural community to have a strong public school system plus the choice of charter, religious, and home school options. Blended learning, online classes and college courses while in high school are becoming viable options.

The traditional public schools in our community have strong curriculum, dedicated professional teachers and the tools our students need to succeed academically. Also, every public school in the area is committed to improvement.

Our public schools are an excellent choice for most students. However, in recognizing that each learner is a unique individual with his or her own set of strengths, weaknesses, goals, values and interests, it should be acknowledged that neighborhood schools are not the best option for every learner. Even though your children may attend, or have attended, the local public school successfully, as a member of this community you should be grateful there are other options available to students.

School Choice Week, which is Jan. 26-Feb. 1, is a time to appreciate the choices parents have to help their children succeed academically and socially. After all, every parent wants the best and school choice allows parents to select the best school for each child’s needs, values and goals.

Victoria Simon is the principal of Threshold Academy. Threshold Academy is an elementary charter school created to serve students in Ionia and Montcalm Counties who need a nurturing environment. The school is operated by EightCAP Inc., a nonprofit community action agency.

The opinions expressed in the Guest View do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Daily News.

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