Choice schools like Classen School of Advanced Studies, where two of my children study in Oklahoma City Public Schools, are controversial. Kids apply to get into ClassenSAS, and that means some people get upset. Some are upset when they or their kids don’t get in. Some are upset when top students (who sadly are valued by some school administrators more for their capability to score high on standardized tests rather than their own potentials to fully realize their talents and contribute uniquely to our diverse society) are “poached” away from their “feeder school” and therefore reduce the mean test scores computed from the students they leave behind. Last Spring, I heard the superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools (Karl Springer) and the chairperson of the OKCPS School Board (Angela Monson) declare in an open board meeting their opposition to choice schools. Their perspectives on choice schools in public school districts are both disappointing and wrong.

Kyle Wedberg, the CEO of The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, was quoted by Jonah Lehrer in his book, “Imagine: How Creativity Works” as saying:

Most of our students would do fine if they were stuck in a regular school. They’d get decent grades. They’d probably even go to some kind of college. But we shouldn’t be satisfied with that. We shouldn’t be satisfied with that. We should insist that they live up to their potential. Because it’s not enough to be good when you can be great.

Wedberg is 100% on target with this statement. In our communities and the public schools which we fund with our tax dollars, we MUST celebrate and support excellence. In is not acceptable for public servants to impose a focus on mediocrity, standardization and meeting minimum standards. We must provide our children with opportunities to exceed all expectations, and those opportunities often come when kids have the chance to attend “choice schools” where they specialize in particular kinds of study and performance.

Because of the controversy surrounding Lehrer’s fabrication of some quotations in “Imagine,” I’ve emailed Wedberg to confirm the accuracy of this attributed statement. I’ll add to this post when I independently verify the accuracy of this quotation. Hopefully it was not invented by Lehrer.

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