To enrich minds, we need school choices

I’m the primary cook at my house, so that means that I make all of the food rules. Sure, my husband or children could try to prepare something yummy from scratch, but good luck with that because I also do all of the grocery shopping.

Basically, I’m running a kitchen monopoly. If I’m inspired, we eat fondue. If I’m feeling fat, we eat salad. If I’m lazy, it’s grilled cheese and canned soup for dinner. Sometimes we go out to eat, but the budget dictates that it is cheaper to eat at home.

Now imagine, if you will, that the rules of our universe changed. One day my son comes up to me and says vehemently, “How many times have I told you that I don’t like broccoli? I’m sick of your vegetable tyranny, and I’m not going to take it anymore! From now on, I’m eating all my meals at Billy’s house.”

Then the next day, my daughter comes up to me and says, “Mommy, your white bread American cuisine isn’t preparing my palate for future food choices. Mrs. Lopez has offered to feed me Mexican food and teach me Spanish. So adios Mamacita! Hasta luego.”

By that point I’d probably be eyeing my husband over the microwave leftovers on our dinner table and planning a trip to PCC to take a cooking class.

Competition would have changed mealtimes forever.

I’m a mom who believes in wholesome food. I also know that the only thing more important than nourishing a child’s body is feeding his heart. A close third would be enriching his mind. That’s why I cannot fathom how Washington state has gone this long without legalizing charter schools.

Education should not be a monopoly. Parents of all income levels deserve choice. My opinion is grounded in the four years I spent teaching at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center in California before my husband and I moved to Washington to be closer to family.

I can tell you with certainty that charter schools are not a magic panacea, but they do bring scrutiny and new ideas into school districts.

Consider this: In the four years I taught at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center, the school always had a waitlist of applicants as well as a plethora of parent volunteers. There was a significant number of children with unique challenges who were hoping to have more success in an alternative learning environment.

Now ask yourself: Is there a waitlist to get in to your child’s school?

I believe passionately in public education and support teachers all the way. That’s why I’m not afraid of charter schools; I welcome them. I work darn hard to feed my children’s hearts, minds and bodies every day. That means cooking up the best possible choices for them whenever possible.

So come on, Billy’s mom. Vamanos!

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com.

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