To just say there is only one way to do something is just not progressive,” said Albany, New York-area mother Latoya Taitt. “Education should not be one size fits all.” And she should know. Even though it’s not always easy, Taitt has three kids who were, at times, in three different schools. But she says she truly appreciates the options available to her family within the public school community in the Capital Region. “This year when we were thinking about placing all three in the same school—a district school for my twins who really wanted to stay together—I had to stop and think about what was best for each child.” Taitt said keeping her third-grade daughter Brooklyn at Henry Johnson Charter School, where she has been since kindergarten, was the right decision even if it meant more of a logistical hurdle shuffling kids to different locations each day. “Brooklyn loves her school and wants to stay through fourth grade and graduate with her friends,” Taitt said. “I chose the charter school initially because Brooklyn was always a little advanced—and I wanted her to be pushed,” she continued. “I was hearing that Henry Johnson would work with her on
her level rather than the entire class working at the same pace, even if some children were ready for more rigor. That was very attractive to me. I felt that she would excel.” Taitt says her daughter is excelling and that she can see her progress. “Her teachers push her and encourage her to go a little deeper in her work.” It’s no surprise Brooklyn is doing well—scholars at Henry Johnson
outperform their district counterparts by double-digit margins in both math and English. Taitt says something that also helps is the school’s open-door policy and their willingness to listen to what parents have to say and to work with them on their child’s progress. “When people say, ‘This is the way we’ve always done it about education, I cringe. Children are unique and many have different learning styles. We should not force a child to conform to this archaic way of learning.” Taitt believes educational options, like charter schools, are fundamentally important to the future. “If we don’t do all we can to provide the best possible ways of learning for our kids how will we produce the thought leaders of the future—the ones who will be making decisions for the world?” While that is a hard statement to argue with, the fact is there are charter foes who still want to deny a parent’s right to choose. Asked if she has ever had to answer to the detractors she simply says: “This is my choice as a parent.”
An original version of this post appeared on Extra Credit.
Photo courtesy of Extra Credit.
Jessica Mokhiber is the communications director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network. She shares the charter school message and the stories of the real people who are a part of the movement with the press, member schools, parents, and the public.