Choice Allows Schools to Better Meet Individual Student Needs
Public education didn’t work for me.
The schools I attended were “great,” or so I’m told. My elementary and middle schools were heralded as model schools of the district and the region, and each produced impressive student results as measured by test scores. My high school was ranked by Newsweek as one of the top 300 schools in the country and produced respectable graduation and college enrollment rates, as well as enviable advanced placement scores.
I started out well enough, but by the time I entered high school, I was of that breed of students that elicit a teacher’s dread. “Over”-intelligent, undermotivated, rebellious, and insufferable. I never credited my progressively worsening underachievement with a specific flaw of the institutions; the system just wasn’t a good fit for me. In it, I felt restrained by the slow pace of the teaching, and repressed by rules that I saw as limiting creativity and independent learning. When I finally left during my junior year of high school to enroll in the University of Missouri’s excellent Center for Distance and Independent Study, my effort improved, “outside” learning accelerated, and I was able to grow — both intellectually and as a person — far more than I could have while “trapped in the system.”
My rambling boils down to a simple observation. School choice proponents and critics alike spend a great deal of research and time arguing about school choice and how it affects students in poorly performing schools. It’s important to remember that improving school choice will afford students from all types of educational backgrounds the opportunity to determine the type of institution that would serve as their very best fit. The society as a whole could be improved if we simply cared that students get the specific education they need for the specific growth they seek.