Blog: The Educated Reporter

School Choice: Keeping Parents Informed

A classroom at Summit Public School: Denali, a charter campus in Sunnyvale, Calif. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

When I was a beat reporter in Las Vegas, families were constantly on the move. And my phone was constantly ringing with parents all asking for the same information: What’s the best school in town, and how do I get my child enrolled? 

The answer to those questions were never easy, especially given the often rigid boundary zones determining a child’s neighborhood school, and the competitive lotteries for the coveted seats in the district’s highly regarded magnet programs. And another issue: Every child is different, and there is no “one size fits all” answer to which school would best fit his or her needs. 

In a recent webinar EWA provided reporters some smart ideas for how to answer parents who want more information about school choice. One logical step recommended by our experts: Media outlets can publish concise and clear data on school achievement so that parents can make more informed decisions. 

Over at Education Week, Arianna Prothero does a solid job explaining how when school choice options expand — as they have in many cities including Washington, D.C. and New Orleans – parents often face new logistical challenges. As she reported, that’s led to a rise in a new kind of (often pricey) education consultant: the school choice expert

School choice is also in the spotlight as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently being debated by Congress. Given that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) misspoke recently when he described some charters as private schools, this might be a good time to share a link to Libby Nelson’s pithy overview for Vox of the correct definition. 

For a close look at a charter school’s innovative approach to testing, catch up with my EWA colleague Mikhail Zinshteyn’s close look at Summit Public School: Denali, located in Sunnyvale, Calif., close to the heart of Silicon Valley. And if you need more background on school choice issues, take a look at our Topics Page on charters and choice. We also have a few spots remaining for our upcoming seminar in Denver Feb. 27-28. This is a reporters-only event, and travel scholarships are available.