Andrew Campanella had worked in education policy since 2004 and had talked to hundreds of parents about their experiences with their children's school. However, talking to a parent in Kansas City, Missouri, set him thinking in a new direction.
The set of criteria he had been researching and presenting to parents had little to do with the response of this parent who desired a learning environment where her child could "develop confidence, joy and the feeling of belonging that empowered him to learn and succeed." With that new perspective he gleaned seven steps for parents and children to find the right school for them.
In the first part of "The School Choice Roadmap," Campanella provides information on the "six different types of schools and learning environments" and in the second part he outlines the individual steps -- more practical than theoretical -- to choosing a school. A key takeaway from this book is that parents have the power to choose the proper learning environment for their children since they know their child better than anyone.
Campanella encourages parents who may be new to choosing a school for their child or who may be switching from one school to another to be honest and direct and to ask for clarification when the feedback or information is confusing.
"The School Choice Roadmap" considers public, magnet, charter and home schooling among the options he offers and looks at factors such as costs, transportation, teacher certification and testing.
The Catholic reader will be surprised, shocked even, that under the heading of private schools, nowhere does he mention the Catholic school option. While not expecting the book to be an apologist for Catholic education in its various forms, since Catholic schools were founded in this country before the United States existed and since Catholic schools make up the largest nonpublic school system in our country and Catholic school enrollment is close to 2 million students, I find this omission very peculiar and disappointing.
Overall, the book will be helpful to those who want to exercise the power they have in determining what's best for their children's education and it raises questions parents should consider, especially if they feel trapped in their children's current educational setting.
Allan F. Wright is principal of Koinonia Academy in Plainfield, New Jersey, and author of 14 books.