Charter School Mom: Every family should have the benefit of school choice

Choosing the best school for your child can be daunting. As someone who has benefitted from school choice thanks to my parents (and make no mistake, when you buy a home in a particular area in order to send children to a specific district, you are exercising school choice), I wanted quality options for my own daughters. No one knows my kids better than my husband and I, and few things matter more than the direction of a child’s education. Choosing the right academic setting for our girls was a non-negotiable.

In 2011, we started touring a variety of schools to determine the best fit for our bright and articulate five-year old. Sadly, the neighborhood school near our Grand Rapids home lacked the record of academic achievement that instills confidence, and we faced the all-too-common reality of an urban district with too few high quality options. So, we entered our daughter in three public school lotteries, including two that are part of the Grand Rapids Public School system, and I picked up an application for a nearby Christian school.

Our daughter was selected in two of the school lotteries, and we ultimately chose to enroll her in a National Heritage Academies charter school, where she has done well for the past seven years. Now in middle school, she is excelling academically, playing volleyball, and singing in the choir. When the time came, we didn’t hesitate to enroll our youngest in the same school, where her academic and personal growth has been nurtured as well.

This week, I join millions of students, parents, educators, and activists across the country in celebrating National Charter Schools Week. As a parent, I am grateful for the opportunities a charter school has given my daughters. As an advocate, I will keep working to make sure every child and family can benefit from the same opportunity to exercise school choice, regardless of ZIP code or income level.