By Paul Dauphin
During the debate in the U.S. Senate over the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, much of the focus centered on partisan political differences and intense opposition from special interest groups. Not enough attention was devoted to the stories of parents who want the very best education for their children.
Secretary DeVos’ support of school choice is important to Louisiana parents who have access to robust educational choice options, including public charter schools, traditional public schools, scholarship schools, online schools and homeschooling.
During January’s celebration of National School Choice Week, parents told us they valued putting children ahead of the interests of adults inside the system. Here are just a few of their stories:
Angela Smith’s son’s Thailand is thriving in his new learning environment at Madison Preparatory Academy in Baton Rouge, a National Blue Ribbon charter school.
Smith said school choice gives power to parents. “The parent is an essential key to that child being placed in a school that meets their needs versus being told where to go.”
Marielle Howard’s son Hunter wanted to give public school a try, enrolling at Dutchtown Middle School as an eighth grader.
“The great thing Dutchtown schools have going for them is the community. We have a community that just breathes academic excellence. We want our kids to get the very best. We’re demanding that from the schools, so they feel empowered to offer it to us,” said Howard.
Four years after receiving a scholarship through the Louisiana Scholarship Program, Demetrice Stone said the outlook for her three children is much brighter at Hosanna Christian Academy in Baton Rouge.
“They’re more confident in their social, academic and cognitive skills. Even in the way they are taught – their math, their reading, just everything,” said Stone.
Jenifer Rodriguez, a mother of four, is thankful for the flexibility it affords her in educating her children. Gregory, her 14-year-old, is academically advanced, and has a severe congenital heart defect. He was traditionally homeschooled for 10 years, but now attends Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA), a public charter school that uses the K12 online curriculum to offer students in grades K-12 an innovative learning environment.
Rodriguez also has two children attending Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet School. Students are taught in a setting where the teacher teaches without speaking English to the students.
“My family is one of those examples of where it’s not a cookie cutter situation, one size fits all. Every child is different and may not have the same needs as another sibling. So, I have explored different options for all my children,” said Rodriguez.
View highlights from Louisiana’s celebration of National School Choice Week: