Opinion: Empowering parents helps students succeed

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Deborah Hendrix

Some studies suggest that adult habits, such as ways of handling money, are set by age 7.

While it may not seem like your PAW Patrol-shirt wearing, zooming-through-the-house child is absorbing fiscal lessons, they just might be. Kids are soaking up the concepts and frameworks that influence who they become as adults. And, primarily, kids learn these things from their first teachers: mom and dad.  

Parents know their children better than anyone else, which means parents are uniquely qualified to choose the school where their child is most comfortable, engaged and successfully learning. When it comes to K-12 education, empowering parents is the quickest, surest path to helping our kids succeed and step confidently into the future. 

I have the pleasure of working closely with Colorado families, and I’ve the seen the truth of this in my work at Parents Challenge, which provides parents with options for their children. We operate in the Colorado Springs area and currently work with 210 traditional public schools, 54 private schools, 37 charter schools and several homeschool associations.

Empowering parents with a lot of choices about where to send their children to school creates intentional education consumers who become confident making critical decisions about their children’s education — no matter how they are able to make those choices. 

As just one example, I think of Mr. Torres, a dad who wanted to provide a quality education for his five children but lacked the financial resources to move his children out of a low-performing neighborhood school.   

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He described their circumstances: “We were living check-to-check and knew that our children were falling behind but lacked the resources to help them. Parents Challenge changed that and not only allowed us to send our kids to better schools but taught us how to support them in every aspect of their education.”

Jan. 26-Feb. 1 is National School Choice Week, and more than 50,000 events and activities will take place nationwide to celebrate choice in K-12 education.

We have options in Colorado: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, free online schools, and homeschooling. Let’s make National School Choice Week a time to appreciate and expand parental choice, and a time to empower more parents to engage in their kids’ education. 

It is not just the right thing for families, it’s also the best way to help all Colorado’s students succeed. 

Deborah Hendrix is the Executive Director of Parents Challenge and is an advocate for parental choice in education. She has served as a board member for both traditional public and charter schools, leading efforts to provide all students with access to a quality education.

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