We grow up in this country believing that freedom is perhaps the most important value that one can hold and cherish. The following sentence has often been called one of, if not the most famous in the world, and has been used repeatedly to bear witness to that belief. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Over the course of our history, hundreds of thousands of people have paid the ultimate price to protect that freedom and our way of life. It is one where we say that we are a people who are imbued with self-determination and we pledge our allegiance to a society where there is “liberty and justice for all.” Not just for the privileged, but for all.
We choose what kind of work we will do, we choose the people with whom we live (after a certain age) and we even choose what kind of transportation we will use. We choose what foods we eat, what kinds of clothes we wear, what kinds of music we listen to, what movies and television we watch, most of it uncensored and without limits. We choose what we read, where we go, where we live, what services we use and what products we purchase. We choose how we spend whatever money we have. We choose who will govern us and how we will be governed although there is some debate about those issues. We are free to choose our religious practices or choose none at all. We choose what we read, what we write and the list goes on and on.
Educating young people is often considered a primary way of transmitting our culture from one generation to the next. Thus public and private education include understanding and appreciating our history and that of the rest of the world, especially as global issues become increasingly important for our mutual survival. As schools struggle to change to meet the needs of a changing world, it seems ever more important that families have the freedom to choose where they send their children to school.
Preparing children to make intelligent, informed, and wise choices may be one of the most important gifts a parent can give to their children. They do that, in part, by choosing which school their children will attend and where they will spend an enormous amount of time being influenced by their teachers and the values that the school espouses. The big question is whether or not the majority of parents make this choice consciously, intentionally and with the freedom to choose which school that will be.
Parents are no longer limited by geography or residence. Budgets aside, many schools that charge tuition offer financial aid when tuition is a factor. Perhaps the more important variables are how the school’s mission and vision align with the parents, what kinds of teaching and learning are going on in a particular school, what resources the school offers, what the school environment and atmosphere communicate and what the core values are of the school under consideration. There are now more choices than ever before and it is the well-informed parents who will exercise their freedom in making that choice.
To help parents make an informed choice, I have put together a little book entitled, Your Child, Your Choice: Finding the Right School for Your Child. (2014) It’s a good investment in making a good match between your children and a school that will engage them in meaningful and productive ways.
A 70 page handbook, it has a questionnaire in the back that provides feedback to parents in helping them make this important choice. Available on Amazon or from your local bookseller or multiple copy discounts for non-profit organizations directly from the author.