The Truth About School Choice: Only 80% of You Will be Happy

school choice only 80percent happySchool choice is coming up at the end of this month, and you can already feel the anxiety in Stapleton. “We have our top two choices finalized, but we are not sure about our third, fourth, and fifth choices,” says concerned parent Abby Trebon. “We of course are hoping to get into our number one, but if we don’t, we are a little concerned about the future of our little one.” Trebon isn’t alone, as hundreds of new kindergartners will be introduced to the Stapleton, Denver school system. “There are so many things to consider,” says Christine Kleese. “We are trying to figure out what will be the best fit for our daughter, and there are so many different options. When I was a kid we just went to school. There weren’t five or six different styles of schools.”

Many parents have been studying the different Stapleton elementary schools for months to nail down their first choice. “We have put a lot of time in talking with teachers and administrators,” says Tracy Dunagan. “We hope all of our work pays off and we end up with the best school to educate our child.” But, the sad reality for Stapleton parents is that only 80% of new kindergarten enrollees will get their first choice. “That is hard for me to understand. That number seems awfully low,” says Dunagan. “This is Stapleton. That number should be 100%. We should all get our first choice all the time. What is my tax money going to?”

Many parents share Dunagan’s frustration. “I can’t believe they can’t just guarantee me our spot,” says Trebon. “They should have some sort of contest or test at least. I don’t like that we have put in all this work, but someone who just wrote the name of a school down could take our spot.” Kleese shares Trebon’s frustration. “The reason I moved to Stapleton was that so my children would grow up knowing that you always get your way,” says Kleese. “This is a very bad early example that my kids are going to see if things don’t go our way.

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg says that Stapleton residents need to take Aaron Rodgers advice and “relax.” “I like to think of the choice program in Stapleton as the world’s best lottery or casino,” Says Boasberg. “Think of going to play blackjack at a table, and 80% of the time you were guaranteed to hit blackjack, or in this case your school of choice. Furthermore, when you don’t hit blackjack on that other 20%, you still beat the dealer. The reality is that these are all great schools, and no Stapleton residents are going to ‘bust’ in this system.” The trouble with Stapleton, however, is that we all want blackjacks all the time.

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