Kids Like Choice

From the Sun Post;

Most Choice Is Yours students like their District 281 schools

A survey of Choice Is Yours students from Minneapolis who are open-enrolled in Robbinsdale Area Schools indicates that most of the low-income students are happy with what they have found in the suburban education setting. The survey was conducted by an outside agency in May 2011 for 235 District 281 Choice Is Yours students in grades 7-12. District 281 has a total of 515 Choice Is Yours students enrolled in grades K-12.

Lori Simon, District 281’s executive director of educational services, and Kenneth Turner, the district’s program director for integration and equity, presented an overview of the survey results at a school board meeting Sept. 6. Seventy-two percent of the respondents said they had input into the decision to transfer to District 281, and 84 percent said they are learning more at their District 281 school than they did at their previous school in Minneapolis.

The survey indicated that 79 percent of the students would not choose to attend a school closer to home, and that 87 percent feel they can participate in any school activity they choose. But more than half – 59 percent – said they would not attend the District 281 school if bus transportation were not provided.

Nearly all – 97 percent – said they have made good friends at the school they attend.

Eighty-five percent of the respondents said they are satisfied with the academic support they receive. Forty-one percent said they believe they need more academic support, but only 23 percent participate in a school tutoring or support program. However, 82 percent said they know who to contact if they need academic support, and 79 percent said they know who to go to with questions about the school or its programs.

Here’s how the students responded to six other questions:

– Are you happy with your current school? 68 percent said all or most of the time, 24 percent said some of the time, 6 percent said hardly ever, and 2 percent said never.

– Do the teachers and staff make you feel welcome? 76 percent said all or most of the time, 19 percent said some of the time, 3 percent said hardly ever, and 1 percent said never.

– Do you feel welcomed by the students? 76 percent said all or most of the time, 20 percent said some of the time, 2 percent said hardly ever and 3 percent said never.

– Do you feel that you are a part of the school community? 72 percent said all or most of the time, 18 percent said some of the time, 6 percent said hardly ever and 3 percent said never.

– Do you feel safe on the bus that brings you to school? 91 percent said all or most of the time, 6 percent said some of the time, 2 percent said hardly ever and 1 percent said never.

– Are you performing well academically at this school? 72 percent said all or most of the time, 22 percent said some of the time, 5 percent said hardly ever and 1 percent said never.

– Do your teachers provide the support you need to succeed academically? 81 percent said all or most of the time, 16 percent said some of the time, 3 percent said hardly ever and 1 percent said never.

Supt. Aldo Sicoli said the district receives some money for the Choice Is Yours students from a federal grant, and additional revenue from the state. “We will watch with a lot of interest to see what happens to integration revenue,” Sicoli said, noting that 59 percent of the Choice Is Yours students said they wouldn’t come to District 281 schools unless transportation was provided.

Boardmember Patsy Green asked Turner what the plans are to move the survey numbers “to the awesome range.” “We are doing community outreach and we’re being visible,” said Turner, who noted that he has participated in the Stop Violence movement in Minneapolis the last two years.

“We’re not recruiting, but we’re telling people, ‘Here’s what we do in our district,'” Turner said. Interest in District 281 continues, he said, and the outreach is augmented with the district’s use of social media. “People are calling us every day,” Turner said. “It’s great to have folks come into the district. We need to be sure that we keep students who start here.”

It’s funny how District 281 touts school choice…..when you choose them!

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