A parent’s story: ‘These children are our future doctors, our lawyers’

More than 1.7 million Florida students participate in some form of school choice. Options include private schools, public charter schools, professional and career academies and district magnet programs.

Editor’s note: This first-person essay from Florida mother Katrina Gray debuted on the American Federation for Children’s Voices for Choice website.

Katrina Gray and son

I have two sons. My oldest attended a private school on a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and he’s now graduated from college. I was so impressed with the school and the type of education my son was getting through the scholarship that I said to myself, “This is something good that I can carry on to my next son.”

A personalized education for your child is what’s right. I like the scholarship option because it gives parents the opportunity to place their child in an educational setting that is smaller and geared toward the child. Instead of just passing my child on to the next grade because of attendance or because of participation, he passed because he understands the curriculum.

I didn’t want my son to go to our district school because the teachers taught according to how the children behaved. I’m glad my son’s father heard about the scholarship. My son got the education we wanted for him so he will be successful in life.

I wouldn’t say my son was happier at his new school because he wanted to be with the neighborhood kids. But in terms of education, he did much better. He did get a scholarship to play college football, but his grades were excellent as well. Either way, he would have gotten a full scholarship to college.

My younger son is 10. He’s had the scholarship his entire time and is doing very well in his lessons.

I think parents should have a choice just like I did. We need to give kids smaller class sizes so they can have one-on-one attention. It’s important because some kids can sit in the back of a classroom with dozens of other kids and get unnoticed. The teachers know they’re there, but what about their work?

There needs to be a time-out to say, “Okay, that child is struggling.” He needs to be helped along instead of being simply made to take a test. He may get a C, which is passable, and they’ll just send him along. But there’s no guarantee that he knows his lessons.

With the scholarship and our new school, when they leave here, we know they’re leaving with something.

I think everyone should have a choice. Give the community and the parents a choice to get their children the education they need, the education they need so they can be successful. These children are our future doctors, our lawyers. We want to make sure they know how to take care of us when the time comes.

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