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Reader: These are the realities of the public school system




Patience Kabwasa's story in the Aug. 2 Independent put a human face on the all too common realities of the public school system. Ms. Kabwasa described the hardships she endured as she tried to "provide my children with access to the best possible education that I could. I wasn't willing to chance their educational outcome on my local school in D-11."

It is no coincidence that D-11's poorest-performing schools are located in the lowest socioeconomic neighborhoods, occupied by families who have no power, no voice, no choice. If she found her neighborhood schools to which her children were assigned to be unsatisfactory, for whatever reason, she should have been empowered to choose whatever schools SHE determined were best for her children, be they traditional public, public charter, private, or home. If Kabwasa was affluent she could have just relocated to the same neighborhood to which she and her kids traveled on a bus for 3½ hours each day. All parents, but most especially those who are economically disadvantaged, should enjoy the full menu of school choices.

If D-11's focus was on Ms. Kabwasa's best interests, it would have introduced her to options, and available resources like Parents Challenge, a not-for-profit that, for 18 years and with the support of hundreds of local donors, has been providing low-income families with both information and funding that empower them to choose whichever schools they think best for their children. She could have drawn on those private resources to cover her costs of transportation, tutoring, or even the purchase of a computer. "We did it [spent money on public transportation that Parents Challenge would have gladly provided] until we literally could not afford to anymore, until the bottom fell out."

How tragic, and how unnecessary.

— Steve Schuck, Colorado Springs

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