I love getting comments to my posts, and readers often add valuable information. This comment is from Valarie M. Smith, previously the Director of the NJ DOE’s School Choice and Non-Public Options office, and now with the U.S. DOE. Ms. Smith has this to say about my post (at WHYY’s Newsworks) on the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program:
My first hand experience with the Interdistrict Public School Choice began with its start as a pilot in 1998. I am the person who kicked off the implementation of 2010 expansion.
To say that the program has been a success & is wanted by parents throughout the state for numerous reasons would be an understatement.
The fact has to be made clear that the IPSCP is not just for seeking a more challenging academic environment for children. When Governor Christie signed the bill, the phone lines at the statehouse & at the Dept. of Ed were jammed for days with parents wanting to learn how to enroll their students in another school.
It needs to be pointed out that public school choice has been around for decades for those parents fortunate enough to be able to pay the tuition rates.
Parents want this program because of wanting to give their student a fresh start at a new school (bullying), it’s also wanted for day care purposes, & some working parents would rather have their children in a school that is close to where they work. I also spoke with several parents who wanted a less stressful academic environment for their child.
Communities like it & are finding that it’s enriching schools by building up declining enrollment, helping to create specialized programs, & creating some diversity in the student body.
What is of concern are the new proposed regulations. The language is not precise and it leaves too wide of a berth for arbitrary decision making by the Department. We must keep this program as a Choice for Parents not one of rewarding high ranking academic schools or of political preferences.
We have a great group of Superintendents led by Bob Garguillo (Folsom) that pushing to keep the program one of Choice.
Valarie M. Smith
Former Secretary’s Regional Representative US Dept.of Ed
Region II, NY, NJ, Puerto Rico, US VI
Former Director, School Choice & NonPublic Options NJDOE