Why charters gave me a stronger parent voice

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Jahwoundee Mason

Jahwoundee Mason

I’m a proud parent of two charter school students. My oldest daughter, Jameshia, was a part of the first 8th grade graduating class at Legacy Charter School and is now in high school at Legal Prep Charter Academies. My youngest daughter, Jahnae, has followed in her big sister’s footsteps and is an honor scholar at Legacy and will hopefully attend Legal Prep for high school one day too.

I grew up in Chicago and moved back to the Westside two years ago from a great school system in DuPage County, where I had lived for eight years. I came from the suburbs knowing that I wanted a similar or better school for my children and that I really wanted to be involved in their education. As part of the move, my first task was to find great schools where my children would thrive and have access to a high-quality education. I needed to find a place where their educators cared as much as I do about their futures. I must admit, I was displeased with the performance of the public schools in my neighborhood, and I could not afford private school tuition for my children. 

I also didn’t want my kids to go to a school solely because of our zip code. I felt stuck and not sure how I would find a school that met my children’s individual needs. So, when I heard about charter public schools, I was excited to know there was another public education option for my kids. With further research I fell in love with the possibility of being a charter school parent. I believe parents are their child’s first teacher. You know their strengths and weaknesses inside and out, and that is why it is important for parents to choose a school and educators that can build on those strengths and improve their weak spots to give them a strong education and successful future.

While I could not say enough good things about the strong education my children receive at Legacy and Legal Prep or the impact individual educators of the caring staffs at both schools have had on my kids both academically and emotionally, another big reason charter schools are the right choice for my family is because they allowed me to get involved and have a voice in my kids’ educations.

Teachers and parents as partners

Legacy and Legal Prep have an open door policy for parents and provide a very family-friendly atmosphere. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on classroom lessons with the students and attend meetings with teachers and principals to address not only my children’s education, but also what is happening at the school. Also, both schools have high attendance rates, small class sizes, a safe environment, a strong focus on academics and a vision for long-term success for college and careers, which are all critical components I value in my children’s education and did not find other schools in my neighborhood.

Additionally, as a charter parent, I’m given the chance to meet and interact with other parents who are just as passionate about their child’s education. We hold rallies and make trips to Springfield to speak directly with our elected officials on what we think is important for our kids to be learning in the classroom, the schools we want for our kids and the standards we have for their educators. I am truly grateful to Legacy and Legal Prep for including me in this experience. When I started looking at different school options, I simply wanted a better education for my children. After a lot of research, charter public schools are the best option for my family because they give me a choice and a voice in where and how my kids learn!

My dream is for more parents to get involved in their child’s school. I believe strong schools – like Legacy and Legal Prep– are the foundation to building strong communities and futures for our kids.  Parents play a critical role in their child’s education. It is important that they know you are there to support them, and just as important for the teachers to know that they can count on you as well. If teachers and parents partner together there is no telling how far our kids can go, the sky is the limit! 

Jahwoundee Mason lives in Garfield Park.