My recent experiences have taught me parents really don’t have the time, resources or information to make an informed decision on whether their child should attend a charter or traditional school; they just want a good school for their child.

The bulk of information out here scares many parents away. There is a lack of information. Google “What is a charter school?” and you’ll find to many articles that come up simply explaining charter schools in a way that leaves parents mystified.

School choice, which most charter proponents champion and a right that I wholeheartedly believe in, is about choosing the best school to fit your child’s learning ability; it should work for you and your family. A particular school may be perfect for one student and family while it may not work at all for another. The golden rule is “know thy child.”

Generic articles spewing out basic PowerPoint information won’t help us. Instead, we need constantly updated, real-time version of what schools offers. We need a better picture of what schools can be.

The only way to truly know what a charter school is would be to enlist the experiences, thoughts, and stories of those people who are living the charter life on a daily basis. As a father, uncle and cousin of NOLA students, I believe parents and other organizations need to roll up our sleeves and become deeply embedded in the business of joining the educators and administrators who we are allowing to be part of our children’s lives. The majority of our children attend charter schools, but every charter school is not all equal. We cannot give a blanket stamp of approval just because it is a charter school; we have to be involved to understand.

There are numerous stories in the world of education dealing with charter schools and school choice.The narrative should always come back full circle to families. Because there are still families who don’t have a thorough understanding of what charters are and what they mean to them. I also have to take to the mountain top and echo to us as adults who are involved in this work of making education better that at the end of the day it is solely about our most precious resources, our kids.

I am calling for a ramping up of the education reform ground game. Blogging, meetings, emails, and phone conferences are ok, but nothing beats a personal visit. Nothing is like making your way to ground zero and getting the story from those who are personally affected. I am not talking about going to an area and talking to the individuals or groups who you think know about education or is the voice of education in that area, but doing your due diligence and finding those true accounts that may make us happy or just might make us sad and entice us to do a greater work. Then, and only then, will this reform of education take flight, spread its proverbial wings and soar giving us the great and constant gains that we know are attainable.

Lamont Douglas in a New Orleans parent organizer who writes for The Secondline Blog.



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