A resource for parents who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of school choice.
Campanella is the president of the annual public-awareness effort National School Choice Week, and his debut book offers a clear road map for choosing the best schools for one’s children. Its initial chapters lay down fundamental concepts—that parents are the experts on their own children, that what works for one child may not work for another, and that geographic location is a key factor in choosing a school. He then introduces six education options: traditional public schools, public charter schools, online public schools, public magnet schools, private schools, and home schooling. He provides basic descriptions of each choice, complete with quick summaries of management styles, how teachers are certified, and other factors. He also offers tables regarding each choice’s geographic availability, although these lack some specificity. “My Takes” summarize the author’s thoughts on each education option, such as “Private Schools can be unique, diverse, and more affordable than you might think.” The author walks readers through his seven-step process (starting with “Think Back to Your Own Time in School” and “Identify Your Goals for Your Child”), providing questions for readers to ask themselves as they do their own research. Worksheets help to focus the discussion with a structured, methodical approach. The questions feel repetitious at times, but they effectively highlight important items. The final chapter asks readers to share their experiences with others, which sweetly concludes the main text. Readers may have questions that the seven-step plan doesn’t directly address, but Campanella’s lengthy “Frequently Asked Questions” section will likely help them. Overall, the author succeeds in his stated desire to remove politics from the school-choice discussion. However, more critical commentary would have been useful, as some descriptions feel overly idealistic. Throughout, Campanella includes supportive, inspiring quotations from parents and school administrators as well as examples of successful schools around the country; several regions are noticeably underrepresented, however.
A straightforward and often useful companion for those on a school-choice journey.