In 2021 Families Want Options and Opportunity For Students
If you’re a parent, chances are the new year is bringing about continued questions about your children and their education. At Love Your School, we’re hearing a lot about what families are looking for, and it’s not “return to normal” or even accepting some sort of “new normal”. In fact, what families seem to be looking for is something actually new. Let me clear: this doesn’t necessarily mean families want a new school, but it certainly means they want to re-think what their student is currently getting, and are looking for new options and opportunities. Schools, education leaders, policy makers, and everyone involved in ensuring the success of K-12 students should not forget these key principles as we approach the new year:
1.Trust parents. We need to remember to trust parents because loving families always know what’s best for their kids. I know, this idea is so simple, it’s so basic, but it’s easily forgotten. If you’ve ever been in an IEP meeting like me, trying to communicate what’s best for your kid, and been told that whatever it is you’re seeing at home just isn’t a real issue, you know what I mean. Trusting parents to decide what their kids need, what educational environment is best, and what success looks like according to their goals for their children is the right answer, everytime.
2. Focus on students. The best way to enhance and improve student outcomes and provide real and measurable results that showcase student success is by focusing on students. We all want to see personal growth in our kids, and we want them to be problem-solvers who are prepared for college, their careers, and real life. It’s easy for me as a parent to get excited about the latest and greatest (and often pricey) educational products and programs for my own kids. I’ve been reminded often that when I stop and evaluate my own decision making regarding what my kids truly need to be successful, it can be different than what everyone else is saying they need. We will never go wrong when students and their success is our shared priority.
3. Every child deserves opportunity. No matter a child’s background, their family’s income, or where they are from, they deserve educational opportunities. We know that there are proven and effective educational options for kids that are allowing them to achieve success in spite of the current challenges brought on by COVID. We also know that not every child is given the opportunity to access these and other programs they need to succeed. I’ve had the opportunity to help several families with special needs students apply for the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program since March. These families knew their child needed in-person assistance, but they were concerned about sending their kids back to school. Utilizing their child’s education funding directly, these families have been able to immediately help their kids continue to grow and learn. Some school districts across the U.S. have even been offering in-person learning pods for small groups of students, and as a result, these students are continuing to receive an exceptional education from their public school. What new innovations might we see launched in 2021? What new opportunities do we need to see launched in order to provide equitable access to all children?
As we approach the new year, let’s consider the ways that we can continue to give families access to effective educational options, whether that’s in person, on Zoom, in small learning communities and pods, or something new that hasn’t even been imagined yet. And let’s remember that trusting parents, focusing on students, and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to be in the educational environment that best meets their needs will always guide us towards a successful future for our students and our communities.