The following reflects the insights of Jason and Kari Crigler, parents of three children.
During National School Choice Week, you may be tempted to focus on aspects of choosing a school based on a price tag or proximity to your house. Price tag and place are real concerns that resonate with us too, yet we encourage you to rethink the school choice process and to focus first on partnership.
Both of us work in ministries serving community members in need (the homeless and the food insecure), and we’ve been blessed to choose a school that partners with us in teaching the value of service to our children. The difference that has made for our family has been profound.
For the last five years, our children have attended Christian Academy Southwest. For us, the school search began with research and talking to other parents about their school experiences, and continued with us visiting Christian Academy for an open house. That’s where we learned about the school’s small class sizes, faculty who view teaching as a ministry, and the philosophy of partnership.
Christian Academy’s belief in partnership was a deciding factor in our school choice. Our school intentionally seeks to foster a strong three-way partnership: between the school, students and parents, and the church. This was exactly what we were looking for, and it’s borne fruit in strengthening our family values, prompting great conversations, and cultivating a comfortable environment for our kids where they receive a top-notch education.
We’ve seen how this partnership has been incredibly important for supporting our children and other students at the school through the pandemic. The administration at Christian Academy did a fantastic job making school a safe, positive in-person experience for our children as long as possible. When the school had no choice but to go online, teachers and other staff were able to keep the goals of challenging academics and biblical truth priorities, thanks to the strong spirit of partnership already in place.
School choice has been significant to our family, and we want to encourage you to thoroughly research your options and pursue the education you believe is best for your children, with this question in mind: What kind of educational partnership am I looking for, what do I value, and what do I hope that my child learns to value?
There are many options out there—public schools with open enrollment in some districts, homeschooling, private schools, and full-time online schools. If the school you determine would be the best partner in educating your child has a price tag attached, don’t be discouraged. There may be help available to make what seems unrealistic a reality for your family. Don’t be afraid to ask; schools often offer private scholarships, family discounts, or other aid.
Several other states have developed state programs, like tax-credit scholarships, to make money less of a concern for parents making a school choice, helping them focus on finding the best learning environment for their child. Under these programs, individuals and businesses can make private donations (and in turn receive a non-refundable tax credit) to organizations that grant needs-based funds to students. It’s possible that such a program will become available to Kentucky families in the future.
This National School Choice Week (January 24-30), families across Kentucky celebrate the importance of K-12 education. We are so grateful for our school choice, and hope that all Kentucky parents are able to seek out and choose learning communities that embody their values and help their children develop their gifts. As you look toward next school year, we encourage you to focus on this guiding question that has helped us: Will this school partner with me to support our family values and provide my child the learning environment that matches his or her needs?