So, this year my youngest daughter, Imani, turned sixteen and will be a Junior in High School. She is a gifted young lady and an eager student. At just four years old, Imani had already made her mind up to be a paleontologist, a scientist who studies fossil animals and plants.. Do I believe she will become a paleontologist? Of course, I do! Do I have faith that there is a school in Detroit that will offer her the educational prowess to become successful and contribute to society? Well, that, my good people, is the $64,000 question.

Our educational system in Detroit has been mutilated and disfigured over the years. The school system at one time produced some of the most prominent highly-trained and qualified adults: doctors, lawyers, airplane pilots, chefs, police cadets, machinists and more. You had an abundance of great schools with great services and amenities to choose from. There was also more confidence that any school choice was a great choice!

But now some schools open and close in the same year, due to lack of accountability and transparency. Schools have been forcibly removed from districts to create new failing districts and then put back. Families feel confused, unwelcome, and concerned. As a parent, I am my children’s first protector and I want them to be successful. So, I advocate for: Equality, Quality, and Efficiency.
Though it may seem difficult, all families still need to make well-informed decisions about the best educational fit for their children. But what does that look like; how and where do you find it? I want to talk to you about how to find the best fit in all this murky water.

We as parents have a marketplace-like system to navigate. Schools are competing for students and offering enticing “incentives” but may not offer academic rigor. Don’t be misled by incentives. Your child may like the incentive but lack the support or challenging curriculum they need to be successful and compete globally. I learned how to shop for the best fitl for my child. Here are a few tips, including questions to ask when shopping for a school. These tools will assist you in your hunt for the best school for your child, whether going to the next grade, or moving to a new community.

✓ Understand what your child’s educational needs are
✓ Make a list of what those needs are and the “Must Haves”in a school
✓ Know what is offered and where (services, amenities, extracurricular activities, and location)
✓ Gather information and make comparisons
✓ Visit the schools and observe (focused students,)
✓ Know school policies
✓ Know the school’s discipline techniques
✓ Check the school’s performance at
✓ See what Parental Involvement opportunities exist
By now the questions are flowing. Write them down, and arrange them by importance. Most of all, remember that an informed parent is a prepared parent!

Shoniqua Kemp


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