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REGISTER VIEWPOINT: School choice involves more than 3Rs

Commentary • Mar 25, 2010 at 3:18 AM

Cash-strapped school districts are looking to open enrollment as a means to bolster sagging budgets. While this is a often a wise move for school districts, the implications for individual students is not as clear cut. The motivations for switching schools are as diverse as the students themselves.

The lure of greener pastures can seduce students who feel out of the loop in their home schools. Some may be looking for the individual attention smaller schools sometimes offer. Students living on the geographical edge of one district, while gravitating more to another district may also choose to move.

If greater academic opportunities are the lure, a student would be well advised to consider all the opportunities his present school offers. Weigh the advantages of each school along with disadvantages.

Keep in mind the costs of transportation to and from school for classes and extracurricular activities are solely the responsibility of the student's family.

Consider that neighborhood friendships may falter from lack of common school issues. New friendships may spring up to replace the old -- and with them more transportation costs for visits.

Factor in that moving from a district with a low-cost uniform policy to one without puts a burden of school clothes cost on the family.

School spirit and sense of community are strongly intertwined, especially in areas where sports and academic teams enjoy spirited rivalries. A strong pride in a community is a natural outgrowth of school spirit. Communities all over are looking for ways to stop the brain drain and asking talented young adults to "bloom where they're planted." The best and the brightest are the ones who can make our cities and towns better in the future, but they have to first feel connected. This connection starts at school.

At the other end of the spectrum, troubled students may be looking to fit in better, to escape a bully, to get away from a tough teacher or to just get a new start. With the help of counselors, parents and his peers, he or she might find facing up to preferable to fleeing problems. School is a time of ups and downs -- much like the rest of life. High school is the time to hone coping skills to prepare for adult life.

For some students, open enrollment offers opportunities not otherwise available. But it's important to consider all the angles before making this important decision.

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