Giving Your Child An Advantage In The Education System

How do you help your child obtain the best education possible in a public school? Educate yourself as to how your school district operates and then work with the system instead of against it.

If you believe that all schools are not created equal, you are not alone. That is why there is currently a great public outcry for school reform throughout the country. Many parents want to be able to prepare their children for adulthood by providing them with the best possible education. However, these parents cannot afford to send their children to private schools. Many of these schools have earned the reputation for preparing young people for college and life. Following are the keys to success in helping your child obtain a quality education within the public school system in your area.

HOW DOES YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL RATE?

Periodically local newspapers will publish a list rating every school within a school district. Check with your local newspaper and obtain a copy of the most recently published list. Is your neighborhood school on the top of the list or bottom? If your child is attending a school near the top of the list, it's safe to say you needn't worry. If your child's school is located toward the bottom of the list it's time to explore your options.

EXPLORING THE OPTIONS

Evaluate the listing of schools within your district and target several schools which you would consider transferring your child to. Find out what programs exist within your school district and what the requirements are for each program. Programs such as VEEP, MAGNET, GATE, SEMINAR and CHOICE offer parents the opportunity to register children in a school outside of their neighborhood boundaries.

Contact the administrative offices of your local school district and ask if any of the schools you are considering for your child to attend accept applications for the various programs offered within the district. If so, complete and return the proper applications for each school you're interested in having your child attend. It's important to note that the programs listed above apply to the State of California and may not be offered in other states or may be referred to by different names.

Another option open to parents of elementary school-age children is what is known as an Inter-School transfer. Some districts allow students to attend a school with the same district for the purpose of childcare or a parent's work-related hardship. In most cases an Affidavit or statement is signed by the parent stating that the childcare provider resides in or is located within the boundary of the requested school.

Also, be aware that neighboring school districts permit parents to apply for an Inter-District Transfer which allows students attend a school in another district. In most cases each district offers a specialized curriculum that the other district may not offer or is currently unavailable because of long waiting list. An example would be a high school in District A offers a cutting-edge program in Computer Sciences; while another high school in District B offers a Performing Arts program. Both Inter-School and Inter-District School transfers are typically granted on a space available basis.

PLAN AHEAD!

When considering a school for your child to attend, think about the feeder pattern of each school. The feeder pattern is the path students take from one school into the next: elementary to junior high, and junior high to high school. Look at the ratings each of these schools have. If the elementary school your child attends feeds into a middle school with a poor rating, you may want to consider having your child attend an elementary school which will feed into a higher rated middle school. The same hold true for positioning your child to attend a high school of choice.

ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS

Don't tell your child how important a good education is, show him! Read!!! Not only to your child but for your own self-education and pleasure. Show a genuine interest your child and encourage him to share with you things that happen during his day at school. Be sure you share your day with your child as well. Communication as well as mutual respect require both parties to be open with each other.

GET INVOLVED!

Make your presence known at your child's school. If you can volunteer during the day in the classroom, cafeteria, library or office do so. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to get acquainted with the personnel at your child's school. You'll not only get to know his teacher, but you'll meet many of the people your child interacts with on a daily basis: the principal, school nurse, clerical staff, teacher aides, and even the custodian.



If you're not able to volunteer, there are other opportunities for parents to become involved. Join the PTA or the school's Governance team or help out on one of the committees at the school. Attend school functions held during the evening. Don't make the mistake of just attending Back to School Night and forget about the rest of the year. If your school holds evening programs such as an Open House, Science Fair, Story Night or even Bug Night""GO! Bring your child to these kid-friendly programs and have a blast! Show your child that school and learning are fun.

BECOME AN ADVOCATE

You are your child's number one advocate. If your child is having academic or social problems at school, support him. Talk with his teacher, the school counselor, resource specialist and principal. Remember that like yourself, these people all have the same goal""to see your child succeed in school.

Become an advocate for all the students at your child's school. Reach out to the community for resources your school is in need of. In some schools local retirees come to the school on a regular basis to help tutor students in reading and math. Many businesses are willing to donate funds for items schools are in need of such as books for the library or computers. By advocating for your school you are also advocating for your child.

As you can see, it's not impossible to help your child receive a quality education. It takes time, patience and phone calls""many phone calls. In order to help your child you need to educate yourself as to how your school district operates and to take the knowledge you acquire and use it in the best interest of your child. The time and effort you put into this endeavor will certainly payoff. After all, you're investing in your child's future.

SIDEBAR

Following is an description of the various programs mentioned above:

VEEP - Voluntary Ethnic Enrollment Program. The VEEP program promotes integration by encouraging minority children to enroll in a designated "ňúsister' school with a student population primarily of a different race or ethnic background. Typically inner-city school children are bussed to a school within the district, but outside of the city.

MAGNET - Another program which promotes integration by offering specialized programs such as: Performing Arts, Science and Math, or Language Immersion classes at various school sites. This program offers inner-city children the opportunity to attend a specialty school outside of his area; and encourages non-minority students to enroll in inner-city schools with specialized curriculum.

GATE - Gifted and Talented Education. GATE students receive a more in-depth curriculum than their peers. These students have achieved a score of 96% or higher on the RAVEN test.

SEMINAR - This program is targets students scoring in 99.9 percentile of the RAVEN test and offers them an accelerated program.

RAVEN - A test given to evaluate a student's learning (logic) capability. In the State of California the test is given in grades 2, 5 and 9.

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