Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More school choice means more responsibility

Inage, 7, left, and Morgan Coates, 3, read books given to them as they stand with their family at an information booth Tuesday during Pinellas County schools’ fair for magnet, fundamental and career academy programs. It was held at Gibbs High in St. Petersburg.

LEAH MILLIS | Times

Inage, 7, left, and Morgan Coates, 3, read books given to them as they stand with their family at an information booth Tuesday during Pinellas County schools’ fair for magnet, fundamental and career academy programs. It was held at Gibbs High in St. Petersburg.

"Have it your way" isn't just a slogan for Burger King anymore.

Schools, too, offer more choices than ever. And Pinellas parents, as much as parents anywhere, have both benefitted and been befuddled by the head-spinning list of options in front of them.

The district offers magnets and fundamentals and career academies.

Business chains and mom-and-pops offer charter schools.

The state offers vouchers for private schools.

To give but one example of how much things have changed, and how fast, consider that Pinellas had just six charter schools in 2008. Now it has 17, enrolling some 4,000 students, with four more scheduled to open in the fall.

All that choice means parents can shop around for the best fit for their child. They can opt for the Center for Mathematics and Engineering at Jamerson Elementary, for example, or the Academie Da Vinci Charter School for the Arts. If they're eligible, they can use a voucher at Bethel Community Christian School.

The choices are no longer so starkly divided between public and private, either. Charter schools use public money but are run by private boards. Tax-credit vouchers, worth $4,011 each this year, are available to any student who qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch. That's roughly half of the students in Pinellas.

For parents, all that choice means more responsibility, too.

How can you tell if a school is right for your kid? How do you know if it's a high quality operation?

Even diligent parents can get flustered. A school grade and FCAT scores can only tell you so much. Sometimes, for example, there are gaps as big as the Sunshine Skyway between magnet and nonmagnet students in the same school. But that information isn't readily available. A private school's academic results can be even harder to find.

For some parents, that's a problem. For others, it's not. It comes down to what they think is right for their child.

More school choice means more responsibility 01/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 14, 2012 1:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs

     Winner of the week

    Peter Antonacci. Gov. Rick Scott tapped his go-to utility player to lead his Florida job recruiting agency, Enterprise Florida, having previously picked him for his general counsel, to lead the South Florida Water Management District and to serve as Palm Beach state …

  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 19: A peregrina spends the whole day under the weather, and part of the day under the table

    Travel

    Day 19: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente: 25.4 km, 7.5 hours (Total for Days 1-19 = 454 km (282 miles)

    This list pretty much sums up my day:

    Eat two bananas

    Walk 13.1 kilometers

    Nap

    Walk 6.2 kilometers

    Nap

    Eat half an apple

    Walk 6.1 kilometers

    Crash< …

  3. Storm routs Cleveland

    Storm

    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  4. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  5. Rowdies shut out Charleston

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.