• Today is: Monday, October 16, 2017

Pittsburgh School Choice Fair helps parents find best options for their kids

school choice
Candy Williams
October03/ 2017

Finding the right school for your kids is not an easy task.

Just ask LaDonna Dozier. She attended last year’s first Pittsburgh School Choice Fair along with some 200 other families. The event helped her to understand the many school options available in Pittsburgh.

“All parents worry about whether their child is in the right school and so many don’t even know the steps to find or apply to the right school,” she says.

This year’s upcoming School Choice Fair isn’t designed to replace a visit to potential schools. But it might narrow your list of schools to investigate, says James Fogarty, executive director of A+ Schools, a community advocate for equity and excellence in Pittsburgh’s public schools.

The second annual School Choice Fair coming up on Oct. 21 at the Energy Innovation Center, Uptown, is co-sponsored by A+ Schools and the Pennsylvania Campaign for Achievement Now (PennCAN), an education reform organization.

school choice
Last year’s Pittsburgh School Choice Fair attracted 200 families.

Representatives from the region’s K-12 magnet, charter and private schools, including school leaders, parents, and teachers – as well as organizations that provide scholarships – will be available to help with information from a school’s curriculum focus to the application process.

The fair is an excellent opportunity for parents with students who will be in transition next year, Fogarty says, whether they will be finishing pre-K, looking toward middle school, or preparing to enter high school.

“In the City of Pittsburgh, 60 percent of families are making choices beyond their neighborhood schools,” he says. “There are a lot of different options in selecting programs that are right for their children to thrive.”

Many schools in the Pittsburgh region cater to the unique needs of students, says Rachel Amankulor, deputy director of policy for PennCAN. For example:

  • Provident Charter School on the North Side is designed for students with dyslexia.
  • Spectrum Charter School in Monroeville serves children on the autistic spectrum.
  • And Passport Academy in the Hill District helps high school dropouts get their diplomas.

“There are also schools that cater to certain interests and passions, like CAPA for students who are interested in creative and performing arts, Obama Academy for students who are interested in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, and Sci-Tech for students interested in STEM-related fields.”

Frequently, parents who are zoned for the most struggling schools that don’t realize that they have other options, Amankulor says.

“These are the families we most want to reach,” she says.

Register here for the School Choice Fair. Free parking and refreshments will be provided.

Parents can learn more about the options available for their child’s interests and talents at this link to Pittsburgh Public Schools. Families are encouraged to visit schools during “Discover PPS Days” Oct. 9-13 by signing up for a tour.

Candy Williams

Candy Williams is a freelance writer and journalist whose articles have appeared in national and local publications. She lives in the South Hills.