Parents need access to quality educational options. But, as several school choice advocates said during an education reform gathering in Orlando on Thursday, they will define quality based on their children’s needs.
Hergit Llenas is the director of local engagement for the Nevada School Choice Partnership. Her state is home to a new tax credit scholarship and education savings account programs. When parents come to her wanting to know about school options, she said, she usually asks: “Why do you want to leave the school you’re in?”
Some are looking for academic rigor. Others may be looking for faith-based education. Still others may be looking for safety, or to avoid bullying, or to find educators who can relate to their culture — a factor that resonated at the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options’ gathering in Orlando.
States looking to set up school choice programs, and deciding how to regulate them, need to consider parents’ diverse needs, said Myles Mendoza, the executive director of One Chance Illinois.
“The goal of this is to open up high-quality schools,” he said, but excessive testing requirements can be counter-productive. “If you make it too bureaucratic, you’re going to lose some of the participation” from good schools wary of regulation, he said.