This year, 2021, has me scratching my head about many things, but none more than the politicization of issues that frankly are just not political. Public health is the biggest one, and dare I say conversations about who should guide policy related to health seem clear to me.
The school choice issue also seems to be one that folks want to make political. When someone shares with me that school choice is an anti-public-school movement, I am always heartened that they have voiced their opinion because it allows me to share these relevant facts about the positive effects school choice has had in Maryland for both the students we serve AND the public schools.
Here we go:
- MOST students who apply for our program so they can attend a private school are NOT thriving in their public school. They need help – a different learning style, smaller classes, more (or less) rigidity in the structure of their day. This means students the public school cannot serve well at the time leave to go elsewhere.
- This rhetoric says that financially disadvantaged parents do not deserve, or have the capabilities, to make choices about which programs best suit their child’s needs in the same way wealthy parents who send their children to private schools do. As a parent, I believe this is a right, not a privilege.
- In cities with wealth-based achievement gaps like Baltimore, where city-funded magnet schools often disproportionately serve wealthy students, this becomes even more problematic.
- Between 40 and 50 percent of our students return to public school in high school. Because our school choice students graduate at a rate of 97 percent, we help to significantly improve the graduation rates in Baltimore City for all schools, not just private schools.
This Thursday, December 9, 2021, from 6-7:30 pm, we will be hosting our High School Choice program for students in grades 7 and 8 to help them choose the best school for them. Our program, run by CSFB trustees who work in education, will focus on both paths – private and public – because we believe to our core that choice is inclusive of all schools. My fervent hope is that each student in our program continues to find the place where they will thrive, and our support of both paths continues to underscore that school choice is not anti-public school and certainly not political.
If you are interesting in attending our High School Choice program, RSVP via email to email@example.com. We’ll send the link to Zoom Thursday morning.
– Beth Harbinson, Executive Director