Optional Schools Implemented in Shelby County School District

Posted on September 1, 2014


By Breanna Sommers

Across the nation and for the past decade, school vouchers and choice are one of the top hot button issues for diversified school districts. Taking into consideration the many different types of student learning styles, preferences, and career interests, it is nearly impossible to think that one school can accommodate every student’s need, especially when students are chosen geographically, not by any of the aforementioned categories.

Many districts and states are vehemently opposed to school vouchers. They claim that the top tier students will gravitate to the same schools and leave their previous schools weaker. This leads to a level of accountability that we as consumers make every day. For example, we are not geographically forced to go to the closest grocery store or bank. Quality businesses thrive against others because of a superior selection, staff, or beliefs. Doesn’t this also make sense for our children’s education? And even if some schools fall in disarray to many great students leaving, this tells the school board what an effective and appealing school looks like.

I leapt with joy while perusing the Shelby County School Webpage to discover that they have implemented what they call “Optional Schools.” These are 48 schools across the county that accepts transfer students from anywhere in Shelby County to participate in special programs. From Delano Elementary that houses Computer Technology to Wooddale High that focuses on Aviation, Travel and Tourism, almost every school focuses on a sector in the workforce. This aids students in standing out on college applications, provides a like-minded community while in school, and prepares them for the job market. It can even be seen as a preview to their college major. In contrast, some schools, particularly senior high schools on the list are merely college preparatory. This does not mean that other schools will not get you ready for the next level, merely that is their main message and objective before students graduate.

I applaud this perspective and would like to see even more sectors added to the list. The next step for each of these schools would be integrating leaders of the community to participate in workshops, career days, and to provide inspiration as to what is expected of individuals who pursue their career. In addition, the school district can place teachers that came from a particular sector to the applicable school to make both the teacher’s and the student’s experiences more meaningful. This is exciting, progressive, and an asset that sets Shelby County Schools apart from many across the country that resist these measures.

For more information: http://www.scsk12.org/uf/optional_schools/index.php

Posted in: Education