You can make choices about your child’s school

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Caring parents want the best education for their children, and that means making sure their school is meeting the needs and aspirations of the family, knowing how to work to improve that school, or making the choice to seek alternatives that might better suit your needs.

The hard part is knowing the quality of your local school or finding the school that is a perfect fit. Researching the options can all be a difficult and confusing process.

Keeping up with deadlines and enrollment requirements can be time-consuming, and district websites can be hard to navigate.

At Children at Risk, we want this process to be easy and accessible for parents. We know that high-quality public schools are crucial avenues for student success, and certain school aspects may be more important than others to different families.

These schools and programs may include traditional public schools, charter schools or schools with magnet programs. Some are better than others, and parents should know how well their school is doing.

Most districts offer opportunities for students to engage in magnet or specialized learning programs. One of these specialized options in the Fort Worth school district is the Programs and Schools of Choice at various elementary, middle and high schools.

At the high school level, the Fort Worth district offers the Gold Seal Programs of Choice to engage students in challenging courses of study based on their interests and the needs of the modern workplace.

Whether it’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) or administration, agriculture, fine arts, graphic arts, etc., the Gold Seal Programs deliver a unique learning opportunity for every student.

The application deadline for these programs is this Friday at 5 p.m. It’s important to complete an application for each child applying for a Program of Choice or School of Choice, either online or a paper application.

For additional information on required documents and the application process, visit the Choice Home Page.

Other options include the high-performing charter schools in your area. Many offer a rigorous academic experience for students. There is also the option of engaging in your local school and demanding (and helping with) school improvement.

Children at Risk wants to ensure parents are aware of the rapidly approaching application deadlines, while also making them aware of the options available, including schools that offer a non-traditional approach to the learning process.

We also want parents to have all the resources they need to get involved in their child’s education in whatever capacity they are able.

In January, Children at Risk will release the Texas School Guide: A Parent’s Roadmap to Success in Area Public Schools for the Dallas and Fort Worth school districts. The guides are one-stop-resources for parents wanting to maximize their child’s educational opportunities.

The guides will contain data profiles for campuses in each district and area charter school and will include facts such as average class sizes and graduation rates. They will also incorporate Children at Risk’s annual Public School Rankings, indicating how each campus measures against its peers.

Parent action guides will be included to help parents navigate the system and learn more about how to get involved in their child’s school. The guides will be available in English and Spanish, and schools will be organized to allow parents to compare their nearby options of elementary, middle and high schools.

You have a choice when it comes to your child’s future. We urge you to consider all your options before time runs out. After all, they are worth it.

Jaime Hanks Meyers is managing director of Children at Risk, North Texas.

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