My Son’s Charter School Is Making My Dreams For Him Come True

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By Reyna Santiago (This piece was originally published in Spanish in La Raza NW’s October Education Issue)

I want my son to have every opportunity that I never had. I want him to go to college, and to have a successful job where he is not living paycheck to paycheck. Today, I know he is on a path to success because of the high-quality education he is receiving at his charter public school.

Bryan is 12 years old, and he is in seventh grade at Destiny Charter Middle School in Tacoma.

I am originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, and have lived in Tacoma for 13 years. After hearing that a charter public school was coming to my community, I attended an informational session. I learned what a charter school is: a type of public school that is tuition-free, open to all students, and able to be more flexible than other public schools in personalizing curriculum to meet my son’s needs.

I liked that Bryan would be part of something new and part of a smaller community where he would have more individualized support. He is now in his second year at Destiny, and we will never regret our choice.

Before attending Destiny, Bryan struggled math, despite my attempts to intervene. At Destiny, he quickly got caught up. We used to battle over his math homework, today he loves the subject.

As a parent, I’ve never seen such enthusiastic and passionate, committed teachers. For Bryan, having a strong relationship with his math teacher in particular has enabled him to succeed in that subject. Bryan is not alone in his success; students at Destiny and Washington’s other charter public schools are succeeding academically. At Destiny, students grew an average of 3 grade levels in reading in just one school year!

Here are some national facts for parents who may be wondering about charter public schools. A new national report, “Charter Schools Serving Hispanic Communities,” by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, shows that charter public schools are helping Latino students succeed. According to Stanford University’s Center for Education Reform and Outcomes, no other group benefits more from charter public schools than Latino English learners, who gain 72 extra days of math and 79 extra days of reading per year at charter schools, advancing at levels in math at the same pace as their white, non-English learner peers.

And according to the National Council of La Raza and the Center for American Progress, high-performing charter schools with significant portions of Latino and English learners do a better job than other public schools when it comes to educating our students. Charter public schools offer extended learning time, provide second language support without losing a focus on content, and show elevated levels of cultural responsiveness and family engagement.

My son’s charter school sees parents as experts and partners. At Destiny, I found it refreshing to find Latino and other Spanish-speaking staff who I can communicate with directly. When I drop by or attend events, there are always bilingual staff to support me. Twice a month, parents can have coffee with the principal. The school also updates parents through text messages which I receive in Spanish. For the first time, talking to his teachers and principal is easy. Just three weeks ago, I actually got a call telling me how great Bryan is doing!

Another reason why I chose to enroll my son at Destiny is because of transportation. Like any other public school, charter public schools offer transportation to families in the area. This is especially important to me because I work the graveyard shift. Knowing his bus stop is just one block from home, I can rest assured Bryan is safe to and from school. I encourage other parents to go visit your local charter school. Meet the principal, get to know the teachers. You too can experience the benefits of a charter public school.