What’s Best for Your Child?

The vast majority of parents want to do right by their children. One Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) educator I once met put it this way, “In the literally thousands of parents I’ve come to know in my career, I only know of one who truly did not care about her child.”

Seeing that we live in the bastion of democracy and capitalism, creating an environment full of choices, this should mean that parents should have an easy time finding educational solutions and environments perfectly suited to their children.

Yeah. Not so much.

Education is probably more confusing today than it has been at any other time in modern history. Yes there are choices, but how do parents filter the choices down to the right ones for their kids?

Public school. Private school. Parochial school. KIPP Academy. Charter schools. Magnet schools. Online classes. Home schooling.

Those are a lot of choices. Forget about the choices that exist in each one of those categories. Then you have articles like this on Network for Public Education website, which essentially lambastes a KIPP Academy school in Seattle, WA. The article is by a teacher who witnessed children having an absolute terrible time in the school, a facility with a 50% turnover rate for its staff, and a lifelong educator who quickly became burned out in what she described as a cult-like atmosphereKipp logo blue

Thing is, KIPP Academies have been around since 1994. Their longevity and growth is not a pure testament to their efficacy, to how fulfilling their work environments are, or to how well students adjust to their teaching styles, but I can’t imagine something so flawed could last for almost 20 years and grow nation-wide.

My point is not to defend KIPP Academies, but rather to illustrate how difficult it is for parents to figure out what school is the best for their children.

There are organizations out there that are currently putting together programs to make navigating these waters easier – the soon to launch Trusting Education from bent spoon Media, as well as programs in the works by the Clinton Global Initiative – but that doesn’t help parents right now. The only thing we can do now is the same thing we do when finding a pediatrician or a dentist: rely upon the opinions of trusted friends, family, and neighbors, which is a great reminder that what truly makes great schools are solid communities.