Letter to the Editor

Let kids choose their school

To the editor: I am a parent/teacher in our district, and I am concerned about the new policy of limiting parental choices for their child’s high school by creating an Out-of-Attendance-Area lottery. What is the justification for policy change that could seriously impact families?

I do not understand wanting to control where students go; it costs the district no extra money if a student attends high school at  Lathrop, West Valley, North Pole or Ben Eielson. If our district believes in personalized learning, then letting students choose their high school is the pinnacle of that model. Lathrop believes in diversity, and I am proud that Lathrop welcomes all students, period. I personally know West Valley parents who choose Lathrop for music, AP classes and/or robotics, and Lathrop has always welcomed them. If it’s convenient for parents to drop kids off at a school, why would the district interfere if it makes their parental duty easier?

Attendance is down across the district, so the new lottery policy decision cannot be based on class size. It cannot be based on money, since the district is funded on student attendance, not the location of the student. As a teacher, I am more than happy to teach all students and don’t understand the district’s desire to eliminate a choice from parents. One teacher told me that a goal of personalized learning was for each school to make site-based decisions to develop student learning pathways. That sounds great, but each school cannot be perfect in every way. Allowing students who have specific concerns/desires to attend a school out of their attendance area is a much cheaper solution then developing more charter schools. Override this misguided policy and allow parents to make choices based on what they think is right for their family.

In a great irony, the district has hired outside for-profit educational contractors to convert our antiquated educational system to personalized learning, but I only see cold, hard, rigid rules where one size fits all with no real personalized learning unless it’s putting a child in front of a computer or bizarre notions like removing homework, no-zero policy, removing grades, or taking away academic honors like salutatorian and valedictorian.

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