Guest Column: Benefits of choice system for the student assignment

October 20, 2010

By Lynne (Ditzler) and Patrick Conner

A recent local news broadcast featured a story on the business community’s stance on elementary student assignment in the Rockford School District.

We think it is not only fair but crucial that the Rockford community hears a parent’s stance on elementary student assignment in the Rockford schools. My husband and I are both graduates of Rockford Public Schools and currently have two children enrolled in the district.

We are strong proponents for keeping the current choice system of student assignment as it benefits neighborhoods, schools in the district and the community as a whole.

→ Choice benefits neighborhoods by bringing people across town and racially diversifying school populations. As people attend or visit schools that are not necessarily in their residential neighborhoods; businesses near schools experience increased revenue and a broader customer base.

→ Choice benefits schools in the district with increased parent involvement and student satisfaction. If parents know they can choose from any elementary school in Rockford, they become more invested in their child’s education. Invested parents, in turn, foster motivated students who achieve higher academic goals. Invested parents are also more enthusiastic about volunteering at their child’s school. Conversely, if parents have the burden of dealing with children in two different elementary schools, parent involvement drops off considerably.

→ Choice benefits the community as a whole by making Rockford Public Schools an attractive option to young families considering a move to the northern Illinois area. If families know they have an educational choice in Rockford, they may be less likely to settle in other cities in the region. Additionally, the wide option that the choice system offers encourages parents to choose public school over private school.

The bottom line is more than dollars and cents. The bottom line is providing our children with the best education possible. We firmly believe that the best education is one that puts children first and empowers their parents with a choice of elementary schools. The students and parents are the biggest “clients” of the Rockford Public Schools. Let’s keep their voices in the forefront of elementary student assignment. Let’s keep the choice system and truly make Rockford Public Schools “a world-class education for all children.”

Lynne (Ditzler) Conner and Patrick Conner are both graduates of Auburn High School and Northern Illinois University. Patrick holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and Lynne holds a master’s degree in education from St. Xavier University.

From the Oct. 20-26, 2010 issue

One Comment

  1. John Penn

    October 20, 2010 at 4:29 am

    Unfortunately, “Choice” creates a lottery system that instead of attracting young families considering a move to the northern Illinois area, it provides uncertainty because perceived ‘quality’ schools are over chosen.

    It is that uncertainty that makes it much less likely for new families to settle in Rockford.

    Get rid of the lottery! We need to put our energy into making ALL Rockford schools ‘quality’ schools!

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