by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
The bottom line of Ann Doss Helms’ recent WFAE article, “School Shopping Demands More Than Looking At Grades, Families Say,” is that families seldom rely on a single metric or criterion to choose schools for their children.
When [Shamaiye] Haynes moved to west Charlotte, she enrolled her son at Thomasboro Academy, a high-poverty K-8 school that’s part of CMS. She chose to disregard a string of D grades.
“You could be in a great school with phenomenal teachers. However, the school could have a 30% transient population,” Haynes says. “That can sometimes make that letter grade go down.”
Her son moved up to high school three years ago – and Haynes says he did his own research to choose the IB magnet at West Charlotte High, another high-poverty, mostly black school. Haynes decided Thomasboro wasn’t right for her daughter, who is in fourth grade now. In 2017 she took a chance on Movement School, a charter school that was opening in west Charlotte.
Schools of choice agree. One size does not fit all.
[Superintendent of Lake Norman Charter School Shannon Stein] and many other educators say there’s no simple hierarchy of best schools. What’s great for one child may not be right for the kid across the street – or even in the same family.
“I think it starts with them understanding what they value as a family and what they think is the best fit,” Stein says, “and then taking opportunities to educate themselves.”
This is why those who believe that parents (and, in the case of Ms. Haynes, their children) make decisions based on the “allure of such a sales pitch” don’t know what they are talking about.