Charter school’s a valid choice |

Charter school’s a valid choice

Don Rogers

I doubt Tamara would dismiss school choice so easily if she had children herself.Not everyone can afford private school, or cares for the options available here, if unsatisfied with the public school system. And they certainly do have a lawful – and fully moral – right to chose charter schools.Charter schools have their own theories, approaches, focuses. Quirks, if you will. But if my wife and I chose regular public school as our kids’ best option, I’m not going to castigate other parents for their decisions to send their kids to the Eagle County Charter Academy or Stone Creek Elementary.I’m confident that my children, in addition to scoring just as well on the various assessment test as their charter school counterparts, have received a richer education for going to regular public schools. I want them to understand the world by living in it in as much of that rich variety as can be found. I believe they’ll be better, more rounded people for the experience of mixing with low as well as high achievers, Mexicans, rednecks, goths, geeks and party people from all manner of backgrounds and family situations. The gamut. I have confidence they can handle it and will be more ready to live in the real world when the time comes as a result. If my kids live in a gated community, well, I’ll shoot them. No, I don’t begrudge my friends and family who live in them. I just want my kids to do better, and I most definitely do not define that as having more money. But that’s the same with parents I know who send their children to the charter school. They want basically the same thing – for their children to succeed in life, with the foundation of the best education they can find, and afford.There’s no denying the fact that Hispanic parents do not choose a charter school education, and there are a number of reasons why, certainly. But don’t tell parent leaders of the Charter Academy who have knocked their knuckles raw on Hispanic doors to invite their children in that they are not trying.Busing, free lunch programs for the impoverished and their own socialization with kids who look like them have quite a bit to do with this. Hispanic parents, more likely to be scraping for their livings, have a lot less time for the demands the charter school puts on parents, too.Are we to believe that families with parents who get involved in their kids’ lives, want the best for them within their means, prefer the academic programs the charter school offers, are willing to take their kids to school – there’s something despicable about them? Simply because parents are fortunate enough in Eagle County to have different choices about where to send their kids? Come on, Tamara. Don’t be so quick to judge. It’s not our role to make sure society has the right quotas from your, forgive me, ignorant perspective. You may not agree with their decisions, but you don’t really know what you will do until you have your own children of school age. You might well see that your darlings will best fit in regular public school, a charter school or maybe even a private school, if you can afford that. Maybe when you grow up this will become a little clearer to you. As for the public schools, I know my children are no worse off for having friends who go to the Christian schools, Vail Mountain School or the Charter Academy. My kids achieve the same test scores, and I believe they learn more about dealing with that wonderful, wacky and, sure, sometimes awful range of people who inhabit this real world of ours.The elitism you allege simply does not exist, however. Those are just parents choosing a different option, and rolling up their sleeves to make it happen. How can you begrudge that? Another thing …Since I arrived here, the Vail Trail has fashioned itself as the young, hip alternative to the mean old Daily. Too bad the young, hip readers it so desperately seeks read the, um, old fuddydud Daily. And they do so in greater percentage even than those “middle-aged” readers whom the Trail editors have always dismissed with a sneer, spitting out the word “boomer” as if spelled in four letters.It’s true. Our overall readership of 91 percent, compared to the Trail’s teen figure, rises to 94 percent in the 18-to-34 category. At the high schools, well, you won’t find a Daily after about 9 in the morning, but the Trail will sit all week in the box.So while Tamara Miller frets over the Daily’s failure to set quotas for types of commentary writers in our opinion section, we’re overflowing with reader response. The Trail can go weeks without a genuinely local letter to the editor, and the wait gets longer for one dealing with something their paper actually covered. Who is out of touch? Maybe the conversation is a little more important than the label of who would presume to start it. Maybe who reads is more important than who writes.Each Thursday, the editors of the Daily and the Trail offer Point-Counterpoint. For Trail Editor Tamara Miller’s side, see the Vail Trail today or visit http://www.vailtrail.comVail, Colorado

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