The Opportunity in School Choice, by Miranda Stout

Published on December 29, 2014

Miranda’s children, Jayden and Marley

School choice was a foreign language to my husband and me when our oldest child started school. When our daughter started school, we thought she would just go to the school in our neighborhood and that was it: a choice due to convenience.

Our daughter did not enroll in early childhood education (ECE) because I was unaware of the process it took to enroll, and by the time I knew what to do, I was too late to get her into a program. We thought nothing of it because neither of us had ECE growing up. We both started school in kindergarten, so we did not think it would be an issue. But as a new kindergartener, our poor daughter brought home homework, and she was clueless on what to do with it. Every night was a struggle to get it done. We tried different techniques to help her understand but we were having a really hard time. After all, this whole thing was new for us too.

We were later told by her teacher that she thought our daughter might have a learning disability. We were very concerned and rushed to the school to get an intervention plan in place to make learning a little bit easier for her. We were up for anything to help her. So, she started the intervention and it seemed to be going well. We had not heard anything about her progress. We could tell she was starting to understand some of the basics when it came to doing her homework, but we knew it was difficult for her. To our dismay, when we got her report card, we were told we needed to hold her back. We were okay with that but were crushed that we had not been filled in on throughout the process of the intervention.

One day when I was at work, I received a call about a new charter school that was opening in our area with busing and all the tools we would need to switch schools. My husband and I were not familiar with what a charter school was. So, we did some research and learned this would be a great opportunity, and we were thrilled to find that this was an option for us.

From the beginning of our experience with a charter school as an option, we were welcomed into what we like to refer to as the Rocky Mountain Prep (RMP) Family with open arms. Our first interaction with the school was a t-shirt that read “Elevation: Graduation” to thank us for being one of the first families to get our school choice forms in. We also participated in a playdate in the park with future RMP families. We attended orientation and loved the concept of this school and the core values. We were even invited to have lunch with the teachers before school started to express our fears. All of our concerns were addressed.

We decided not to hold our daughter back, and our son started ECE as one of the youngest in the school. I have to say this has been an amazing experience for us, and our kids really care about the education they are getting. Most importantly, our daughter is not ashamed when she struggles. This school has given us tools to help our kids at home, so when they are having issues, we know how to help them. From the beginning we have been informed and welcomed to be a part of their success. Our daughter is far from learning disabled and is actually one of the top readers and writers in her class. When she started, her confidence was not there and she lacked self -esteem. Now two years later, she is persevering and is proud of her accomplishments.

School choice made the opportunity for our kids to attend Rocky Mountain Prep happen. We could not be happier with the experience we are having and we know if we did not have a choice of where our kids attend school we might not be so happy. We know this because we gave another school a chance and the experience was not so pleasant. Having the choice has empowered us as parents to make sure our kids get the best education possible, and we have gotten to be part of it every step of the way.

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