George Lucas Educational Foundation

Finding Good Schools - Need Resources

Finding Good Schools - Need Resources

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As a parent who understands the edutopia platform and wants to give my child the best possible education I don't know where to turn. I found the great school in my community (High Tech High in San Diego) and applied, but was not selected in the lottery for my 6th grader. Now what? I would be willing to relocate my family to get my kids into a school that embraces project based education, technology, individual strengths, real-world understanding and a global perspective. How do I even find these schools? Is there a resource that tracks these schools whether charter, public or private? Where are the great schools? Everything I've found is test-score based.

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Monique Ortega's picture

I am an educator and mother living in San Francisco. Being part of the lottery system that incorporates a variety of public, private, and charter schools at all levels can be taxing. Yet, there are ways to take control of your child's education and learning. First, as difficult as it may be, keep a positive attitude and meet obstacles with problem solving strategies. Second, do your research. I went on line to learn how to pick the right school for my child. There are a lot of different excellent web sites to guide you on the process built by educators and parents. Researching the schools test scores and student population is most powerful when someone can explain to you what all the numbers mean(it is not as apparent as some may think ask an educator).Then, i wrote down my 3 top schools for each system public, private, and charter. This lead me to visit the school and ask specific questions related to the schools philosophy, getting examples of the curriculum and lesson plans, and meeting the staff to get a sense of the school culture.Once I narrowed down my choses i began the networking process. It is important to attend the school functions and fund raisers to show your desire to be part and do your part to be a positive person in building the school culture. Also, talk and write to the important individuals who make choices about who gets into their school(s). Most schools want to know you have a connection to the family and community as well as fitting the academic criteria. Remember research, network, and smile because you are a good parent who is asking the right questions!

nedra@truealcove.com's picture

Monique, Thank so much for your time and thoughtful response. I have done all of that - and it makes me feel that I did the right thing. Frankly, I was worried that my outgoing, involved parenting might have scared someone off. I met teachers and administrators, bonded and even helped with some fundraising and connections to some potentially large donors. The honest truth is that High Tech High turns away over 4000 students a year, and it's 100% lottery. I am currently in a small private school that I am very happy with. But, I am reaching the point where I can't keep paying even with their generous financial aid. Additionally, I am outraged that there is a model that works (High Tech High) and so many students/families are getting turned away. I have found a small charter school that has the right philosophy but clearly has facilities and other challenges. However, I'm going to work with them to try to start a middle school. I want to do the right thing for my children, but also wish to be a catalyst as a parent, entrepreneur and education advocate to help create more charter schools that serve the needs of our future generation.

E Lockman's picture
E Lockman
PTA President; Education Advocate; Media Literacy Trainer

Monique, your note resonated with me, as well. I too am troubled when I see charter schools with working models functioning for a select few, and leaving traditional schools in the dust. I think if you want to be a great education advocate, the answer is perhaps not more charters to serve more select groups and further leave behind a remainder, but to fight hard to implement the original mission of charter schools - to pilot models that could be applied in any traditional public school classroom. I send my child to a traditional public school, and fight hard to make sure that charter standards and practices are placed as goals. If you are truly committed to reform that will affect the society your children inherit, beyond their direct educational experience, you might consider fighting to improve the general practices of public school education...not just the divisive charter system.

I'm also not a fan of greatschools.org...I find it can be misleading and panic-fueling. The best way to judge a school is to visit and get a sense of the atmosphere. Your individual child's comfort level at a school may not precisely match your sense of what is best due to reputation and a desire to save face with your own peers.

I know every parent does what they think is best for their children, but I wanted to offer this alternative perspective. :)

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I think one of the biggest problems we face is determining how a school is "good" or "bad" when the experience of individuals vary so much, especially whether or not the kids develop trusting relationships with their teachers, that makes all the difference. Sure, you need good and dedicated teachers, and an administration that is in sync with them; a great and involved set of parents helps; but I think we *want* schools to be like picking out a pair of shoes, where w can choose a brand or location or type and be assured of quality. But in reality, a lot of the quality factors depend on the students and the teacher in the classroom, and making sure there's an ok fit.

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