The limits of home school assignments

Sept. 20, 2010

Here’s the next big question for CMS:

What do you do with a schoolhouse that nobody wants their child to attend?

Ask nine school board members, 50 corporate executives and half the members of the local association of homeschoolers this question:

Where would you NOT send your child to school? Compile all the names and you’ll have an airtight list of the facilities in question.

Multiply that number by 437 or 783 or whatever number of children are in each building and you’ll get a handle on the size of the problem that CMS faces, and the number of parents who today feel cheated by CMS.

If you think your CMS home school should be on the list, then you are one of the thousands of parents who must think that school board members are nuts to value home school assignments so highly.

Even the parents who are most vociferously in favor of assignments closest to home will start hopping up and down if the school closest to home suddenly becomes unacceptable to them for any reason.

One of the first stops on the road toward greater parent involvement and higher student achievement is to stop assigning children to schools nobody wants to attend.

What to do with those schoolhouses?

The most pressing need is to move to the biggest of those facilities the programs with the longest waiting lists. Some of those popular programs are in buildings of very limited size. The board is going through that list right now, so it should have all the details on the table soon. Moving those programs so they can grow will make more parents enthusiastic – a key ingredient to parental involvement in children’s education.

There are expenses, of course, in moving programs from one building to another. Perhaps the foundations that are currently looking for ways to be helpful could step in and cover those costs. The goal would be to close schools that nobody wants to attend, retire those names, and move into those spaces the programs that lots of people want to attend.

Indeed, the way around schools that nobody wants to attend is for everyone to choose where they want their child to go to school.

It sounds so simple. The details are complex. But the problem in CMS since – well, since CMS was created – is that so many people have assumed that the details are too complex or too costly that no school board has really examined how it would go about giving every parent a real choice. Perhaps now is the time to do just that. Perhaps those foundations that are currently looking for ways to be helpful could help with that as well.