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OPINION – Parents truly do know best. When it comes to a child’s needs, goals and their learning style – a parent is the one who knows exactly what it takes for their child to be successful. That’s why school choice matters – parents are empowered to choose the best school for their son or daughter.

While educational choice is expanding across the country and everyday there are even more opportunities out there for a child to attend a high-quality school, it still can be a intimidating task for a parent to find the perfect school for their child to attend. While quality, through examining test scores and Department of Education reports on a particular school, and reputation can be easy to determine in your community, there are many aspects to a school environment can maximize your child’s potential for success.

Picking out the best school for your child isn’t hard. As a parent, you know how your child learns and what type of environment will fit him or her best.

Here are a few things to consider when looking at a school for your child:

Curriculum – As a parent, you should be able to decide what your child is exposed to in the classroom and understanding the curriculum of a school is an important aspect of your child’s overall education. Attend open houses, participate in school tours and observe the teaching and learning taking place in the classroom. Also ask the administration and faculty of the school questions about classes and what sort of topics or subjects the school may emphasize.

Safety of the school – While on your visits, ask questions about the safety practices of the school and ask to see plans and the preparations each school takes for emergencies or unexpected events. You can also contact the local police department to inquire about incidents of violence in the school or the surrounding community as well. Knowing your child is in a safe environment not only puts your mind at ease, but also allows them to place the focus on learning.

Parent involvement – See how you can be involved, and meet other parents whose children attend the school. Go to a PTA meeting, visit online parent forums discussing schools in your area and review blogs, which all can provide some great information about a school from those who know all about a school firsthand.

At the end of the day, there are many resources that can also help in your search for the perfect school for your child. Online resources like GreatSchools.org as well as printed directories from your local community or family resource center can provide ideas of schools to visit. Also community organizations like the American Federation for Children, your local Urban League or the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) can assist with finding quality schools and applying for particular scholarships and educational choice programs. BAEO even has a training program on how to be an advocate for your child. Each parent should be given all of the tools they need to make sure that the school they choose is the right fit for their child.

Every child deserves access to a quality education, and finding a quality school is just one part of that equation. Not every school works for every child, but as a parent you know what is best and you will make the right decision for your child so they accomplish their goals and perform at a high level throughout their education.
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By Kevin P. Chavous

Kevin P. Chavous is a founding board member and executive counsel for the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, a noted author, and national education reform leader. He can be reached on Twitter@kevinpchavous.