As the world faces a huge pandemic scare with the Coronavirus, schools in America have been closed until further notice. This has made me reflect on the advocacy for school choice I support. School choice is a much needed option now more than ever. Many parents and guardians are having to step back into their first role as teachers, but there is a great concern of how education will look for traditional public schools. If there wasn’t so much opposition against school choice, traditional public schools would have innovative resources to continue learning outside of traditional classrooms. There are a lot of public schools outside of large cities that don’t have the same resources and aren’t as prepared and inner city districts with technology. But even large city school districts don’t have parents who can access all the resources. So is there really no child left behind.
The major difference in traditional public schools and non-traditional public schools is that non traditional schools have flexibility in how we handle academics and operations. Right now, public schools need flexibility in how they are presenting academics to our youth at home. Atlanta Public Schools, Dekalb, Fulton or Gwinnett Counties are the examples all traditional public schools strive to model themselves.
Before the recent closure of schools, traditional public schools strict attendance policies require students to physically be present. It doesn’t serve all students well. One example is the flexibility with attendance, charter schools like Georgia Cyber Academy and the state’s first non-suspension school, 7 Pillars Career Academy. Both schools give parents and students a different choice by having online curriculum’s’. The best educational outcomes for our children is why I advocate for school choice. The flexibility with attendance policies gives scholars who have health challenges a chance to succeed as opposed to being left behind in non traditional schools.
Our schools operate differently than traditional public schools regarding attendance policies. For example, our 7 Pillars scholars who can’t attend school because of health challenges aren’t counted unexcused absences if they aren’t able to physically come to school. This is because we have an online curriculum in which our scholars can still get help with their lessons from us while working at home.
Parents are seeking a different option in how their children are being educated. While many students in traditional public schools are working on packets, my students are working on lessons to complete this year’s standards and begin the next. Several parents in traditional public schools have asked if their students can join my online class. We are following our regular school hours. Teaching Special Education through an online curriculum at 7 Pillars has been rewarding. I have been able to teach and help my scholars continue to eliminate their learning gaps. I don’t believe they would be seeing the growth we’ve seen this year if they were in traditional public schools. 7 Pillars parents are able to work from home successfully while their children are doing their work too! Many traditional public schools don’t have the flexibility in their curriculum that meets the needs of all scholars when traditional schools programs aren’t in session.
School choice is the right choice for any parent who needs a different yet better educational outcome for their child(ren). I have always said that parents should have the right to choose which learning environment works best for their child, especially when the student(s) are struggling in school. Children across America are suffering in traditional public schools because there are adults who refuse to look at how we educate children in different ways.
The Coronavirus has created a space needed for school choice naysayers to truly see the positive impact non-traditional schools of choice are providing American families. Learning can take place in innovative ways and still bring people together. This is time for us to rethink education, truly reform and improve traditional public schools while properly funding and supporting non-traditional schools and the families we serve.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.