If the Shoe Fits. . .

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By Shelly Russell, Principal at Littleton Academy- Littleton
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While Wikipedia is not usually my first choice for reliable research, check out results for the search on “school choice” and you'll find that the subtopics listed read like store fronts at the mall: open enrollment, vouchers, tuition tax credit, charter schools, magnet schools, home schooling. One website even listed a choice called “unschooling”-- where cities and states offer school choice fairs where a parent might go to shop for a perfect match.

But while I enjoy the mall as much as the next girl, I know that when I shop, I rarely find the perfect match.  Especially when looking for shoes.

Charter school community parents and advocates find choice even among charter schools, and that choice is critical for the success of all parties.  

Parents, here are a few things to consider when shopping for your perfect match:

Brooks Ariel Running Shoes: Do I want a charter school with educational programming for a broad age range and many different academic and creative opportunities? If I have multiple children can I take them all to school at one time and one place?

Those are my kind of running shoes; built for comfort and the long haul. And by putting my money where my mouth is, I’m choosing a larger school which will accommodate the age range and programming that I value for all of my children.

Silver strappy sandals: Is my daughter an artist, my son a perfectionist, or my baby not yet ready for preschool?

My silver strappy sandals might take me to a charter school suited to a special population, and I might make a different choice for each student in my family when it comes time. The variety in school choice and in the charter school world will keep me from showing up to the Rockies game in my silver strappy sandals, and when I wear them out on the town, I might be the only one at the party with them on. They’re unique.

Red flats: Daring enough to be different but traditional enough to be understated, some charters have many similarities to the neighborhood schools that surround them.

Parents who live in a strong district still value the choice that charters provide. Charters may attract some of the same clientele and may view the neighborhood schools as a type of competition because, while the charter has provided a choice — in curriculum, or dress code or behavior expectations — the neighborhood school provides a solid education for its students as well.

In my red flats, I might have to sell what makes my charter school different and prove it to the community each year. But that’s good for my school, charter schools in general, and education as a whole.

I don’t really own a lot of shoes, and I do have trouble finding the perfect match. But in my closet, and in the public arena set aside as an educational plaza, I’m fond of choice.