Public vs. Charter: Should Parents Have A Choice?

The charter vs public school conversation is so skewed with myths, like charters take funds from public schools and public schools are condemned for failing children.
This vainglorious battle between the two public education sectors has been replayed so many times and it’s getting old. The fact of the matter is that parents don’t care whether their children are in a traditional public school or a charter public school. They don’t care about pushing agendas to strip either of the popular vote. They only care that their children are in a safe and caring environment that educates them.

In a recent Detroit School Talks School Finder Poll we asked 102 people about school choice. Parents, caregivers, educators and those who care about education were asked 6 questions about what is most important to them when selecting a school. The responses were awesome!

Here is one of the Poll results:

While 72% of participants were parents of public school students, 62% of all participants said it does matter to them if a school was public or charter. Yet 60% of all participants said parents should be able to practice Choice.

Their biggest concerns when selecting a school in order of priority were

  • How the staff treated them and their child
  • Curriculum
  • Class size

Why, then, do we keep making this a battle between traditional schools and public schools? Why is our focus not on making sure all schools are held to the same accountability standards? Why continue to take away our choice? If school A. does not have what my child needs, what gives you the right to say my child can’t or shouldn’t be allowed to attend school B?

Here is the response of one parent, who just wants a quality school, when asked if they’d like to share their story.

“I have a child with special needs. Too few schools, regardless of the system, have the qualifications, experience, and resources to serve special needs students well. Public schools are required to help, but often don’t have the resources to do so – not well, not without waiting lists. Charters and private schools often simply, blatantly just won’t serve special needs students.”

I myself have practiced choice often. My two children have been in sixteen schools and nine different districts. I have bussed them across city borders in search of great schools and even moved to suburban communities. I only hoped to find what I needed for my children. I have been both criticized and applauded for practicing that choice.

Would I do it again? In a perfect world, I would not have to. There would be a child-focused agenda at every school that drives excellence. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and choice was needed when school leadership refused to address issues that put my children’s academic growth, safety, and emotional stability at risk of being fragmented. So, yes, I would do it again.

Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee participated in Detroit School Talk’s brief four-day survey. I would love to know what is most important to individuals in your state as we continue this conversation. Does the battle between charter schools and public schools need to exist at all or should we just focus on making good quality schools accessible to all?

Tell us what you think by taking the survey



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