'School choice' should include private schools

February 05, 2011

I was happy to see the "school choice" article in today's Baltimore Sun ("National movement for 'school choice' embraced in city," Feb. 3). Baltimore schools CEO Andrés Alonso and many of the charter schools in our city should be applauded for what they are doing and have accomplished. Certainly, more choice rather than less choice is beneficial to Baltimore City children and families looking for the best education that they can obtain.

People interested in the topic of school choice should keep in mind that full and true "school choice" must allow parents to consider sending their children to non-public schools in our city as well as public schools. Many Baltimore City residents are unaware that there are over 200 certified, legally operating non-public schools in Baltimore that are doing a great job educating children; many of these non-public schools have a religious affiliation (Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, etc.).

In an effort to support full and true school choice in our city, Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore (www.CSFBaltimore.org) is currently providing approximately 400 scholarships to local children of low-income Baltimore City families so that they can attend the non-public school of their choice. These students are going to 60 different schools this school year; mostly well-run neighborhood schools.

While I wish all the best to Baltimore City's public schools, any article on school choice that wants to be comprehensive should mention the non-public school choices in our city; this year and for the past 11 years, Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore has helped many local children attend those non-public schools. Undoubtedly, Baltimore City parents appreciate having the choice to send their children to these schools.

Matt Wyskiel, Baltimore

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