It was August of 1997 when I first understood why school of choice matters.
I was in Buena Vista, Michigan at a recruiting event when an appreciative father, with his wife and three children, came up to me and said, “Dr. Faucette, I never dreamed my child could get a free private school education.” That father put all the pieces together about charter schools. Charter schools offer choice to people who don’t have enough money to afford private school options, but want the best possible education for their children.
Parents Now Have a Choice
Charter schools are best characterized as Totally Free Public Schools of Parental Choice… no tuition! Historically, parents who live in middle and upper class neighborhoods send their children to schools of excellence. Public school education is generally centered on serving the educational needs of more privileged children. Children of lesser economic and social status were usually excluded from high performing schools due to the neighborhood their parents could afford to live in.
Charter schools offer children of poverty an alternative to subpar neighborhood schools. Parents of financial means have always had the choice to secure better education (than the public schools) for their children through private schools, parochial schools, or not-so-free homeschooling. Occasionally, parents without economic means are able to secure scholarships for their children to attend private schools. Education is the generally accepted ticket out of poverty and all parents want schools of excellence for their children.
Unselfish DNA of Boards and Teachers
Each successful charter school has two essential ingredients, both with the DNA of “unselfish.” First, the Board of Directors is not paid to serve… they are all unpaid volunteers, members are not positioning for the next political opportunity, and they listen attentively to parents and act on what’s best for children. Great schools have Board members who keep children and families first and not other interests.
Second, charter school teachers embrace the belief that all children will learn and put their students ahead of themselves. What children need comes first. Our teachers are the centerpiece of what makes great schools.
Unselfish Board Members + Unselfish Teachers = Successful School of Choice.
Here is the irony of the world of choice. Competitors within the Schools of Choice legislation are the same public school districts with the same school board members and superintendents that now compete with each other for the almighty dollar… but that is okay as long as the competition is not with charter schools. The irony persists that parents are smart enough to pick a public School of Choice but are not smart enough to make a charter school choice. The dollar following the child from one school district to another is acceptable, just don’t let the dollar follow the child to a charter school.
Add privatization of services to the irony of the public school mind and politics dictate one paradox after another as public school districts select private businesses to offer services.
We believe in high performing public education for all children, be it the public school district, schools of choice within and outside public school districts, or charter schools. Choice Schools and MIChoice will never knowingly disparage public education because we are proud public education service providers for charter schools in Michigan.
Charter Schools…Parent’s Best Partner
Let’s add Choice Schools and MIChoice to the conversation to see where we differ. Choice Schools was founded on the simple premise that all parents are smart enough to make the “right” education decision for their child. We believe that parents who can’t afford private education deserve the same excellent schools for their children as children of well-off parents. That’s it…we believe American democracy is all about the will of parents to make choices for their children. Parents shouldn’t have to send their children to the school selected by the government, Federal, State, or Local. Along with private schools and homeschooling, charter schools allow the free enterprise system to operate outside the traditional public school district.
Parents have the moral right to decide which school their children attend and who educates them. As strongly as we feel about our educational models – accelerated schools and Montessori schools, we want parents who believe we provide the best option to enroll their children in a school managed by us and to become active partners in making sure their children receive a first class education in a safe, secure learning centered school. Partners – parents, school leaders, teachers, and support staff – openly communicate and listen to each other.
“Someone so special deserves the right Choice” has long been the slogan of Choice Schools. We have a sacred trust with parents to live up to and exceed their expectations, regardless of their wealth or position in the community. One of our greatest strengths is the inclusive nature of our educational programs for all children. Parents who live in poverty have taught us what we all know intuitively…They want the same high quality education for their children!
We are employed by each charter school Board of Directors and serve at their pleasure. The Board has a choice and we hope Choice is the choice. The redundancy is intentional. Every decision made by the Board of Directors and Choice Schools Associates/MIChoice should be the best possible choices for your children. After all, your children are our children.
Our mission is to empower every child with the knowledge, skills, character and work ethic to achieve the American Dream. “Every” child daring to dream requires their parents to make a well thought out choice because one size doesn’t fit all children. Choice believes that parents know what’s best for their children. Our advice to parents is to check out schools carefully and select the one that provides what they are seeking for their child.
Children of poverty now have a choice of tuition-free, totally free public education. That is the heart and soul of “why school of choice matters.”