There’s always a flip side

March 22, 2023 | Sharon Sedlar

Admittedly, I’m passionate about education choice; about providing children with options so that they can excel educationally in whatever environment works for them, with programming that helps them thrive.

Some district programs do a fantastic job for some students for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps the district can focus on vocational programs; or they have a stellar, knowledgeable and helpful Special Education Director; or they are complemented by a very involved and interactive parent body with immense fundraising capabilities; or they employ coaches capable of providing a well-rounded and energetic sports program; or so many more wonderful scenarios for students.

Some private or charter programs create alternative environments for students, focusing on foreign languages, international studies, culture, or the dramatic arts (just to name a few). They can create and foster an educational environment that also permits values-based teaching and expression.

Some virtual or online programs provide a wealth of course options not able to be provided by traditional brick and mortar constructs from a simple facility space or staff perspective, or flexibility in schedule such as that needed due to competition schedules (think world-class violinist), traveling schedules (think military families), or emotional, physical or safety needs.

And of course homeschooling families enjoy the ability to modify their child’s curriculum on a very individualized basis, only constrained by state regulations; able to provide the content AND environment exclusively tailored to their children and students.  But, as always, there’s a flip side.

There are parents who attempt any given educational option, and find that is not right for their children.  No matter the wonderful and all-encompassing services of any education model, there will always be shortcomings.  Things change.

For instance, families who move into a well-resourced community with a splendid planned-for district later find it (flip side) no longer suits them – perhaps due to a change in family circumstances, viewpoints, or child needs; a child who was content to homeschool while younger (flip side) finds a need to spread their wings,or increase their social experience, participate in a vocational program only offered via district, or claim more independence.  In that same district, a child needs to be homeschooled or a virtual program due to bullying.  For my own children, I have utilized private, public district, cyber charter, and district cyber (quadruple flip!) programs based on child and family needs and requirements.

The conversation isn’t about “majority”.  It’s not about which party is “in power”, or which educational model is most frequently attended.  It is about the child, and the fact that no one, single education model will ever serve every child.  It’s about providing what the child needs, absent finances, zip code boundaries, or what “the majority” wishes for them, but rather what the parent wants for them.  Anyone seeking to control, delineate, complicate, or limit educational freedom isn’t doing it for student benefit.

It’s simple.  Focus on the children.

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