When Stephanie Young was searching for a great school in Detroit for her children, she gathered together all of her resources to help her make her decision. She asked friends, family and neighbors about their own experiences. She visited schools and talked with educators and administrators. And she relied on a printed guide to schools in the city.
Created by a nonprofit community foundation, the guide helped Young focus in on just what she and her family were looking for. Eventually, that guide no longer existed.
“I remember when they stopped publishing that guide. It was so helpful to have a physical document that you could go to that could provide information in one place,” Young says.
As executive director at the Community Education Commission, an organization designed to increase access to quality schools in Detroit, Young is thrilled to be able to champion the Detroit Parents’ Guide to Schools, a new resource that is designed to help families get the information they need to make their best school choice.
The Detroit Parents’ Guide to Schools is available online and in print to be a convenient resource for families. Parents can find the print version at Detroit recreation centers, Detroit Public Library Branches, and many local businesses throughout Detroit, while supplies last.
“Parents in Detroit have so many school choices for their children,” Young says. “Parents can refer to our guide to help alleviate the stress associated with trying to find information about a particular school.”
The Detroit Parents’ Guide to Schools makes it easy for families to find schools by different criteria, like location or name. The school listings are divided into the seven City Council districts to allow parents to find schools right in their district, Young says. “And if someone gives you a name of a school but you don’t know where the school is located, there’s an alphabetical listing. It’s a user-friendly guide.”
More than just a listing of schools, the Detroit Parents’ Guide to Schools is a resource for success in navigating the school system at any age. From early childhood education to post-graduation programs to GED support, the guide offers information that can help make the whole family more secure. “The stronger the family as a whole, the more secure the student will be. We think that’s important,” Young says.
A good school fit is also important for a successful educational experience for students and families, and parents have many resources to help them make the right choice. In addition to the Detroit Parents’ Guide to Schools, Young suggests these other tips for families looking for the right school:
Match interests. If your child has a passion for a particular subject, it might lead you to look for certain curricula or programming. “Schools now specialize in focus areas, so if you are looking for a STEM program or an arts program, that can help narrow your choices down to a few – not 100 – to consider,” Young says. “It really helps if parents have an understanding of what their kids are interested in.”
Consider school culture. “School profiles in the Detroit Parents’ Guide to Schools have a culture section where schools share their points of pride and culture around safety. They have the opportunity to talk about how they handle internal conflict, or about how they’re involved in national competitions,” Young says. “The school might be big into chess tournaments, for instance. If your child loves chess, then wow! All things being equal, that might be a school to consider.”
Visit! After doing your research, talking to friends, family and neighbors, and using the Detroit Parents’ Guide to Schools to learn points of pride for each school, Young suggests touring the schools that have captured your interest. “Now you have to see the school and meet the principal,” she says. “The head of the educational organization sets the tone for the whole school. If you don’t connect with the head, you may want to consider going somewhere else.”
Finally, know that as a parent, you know your child best. “Parents can take a deep breath and know it will all work out. Having this type of school information at their fingertips is a great start,” Young says. “You still need to do your homework as parents. It’s not always easy, but we are here to help.”
For more information on Detroit’s public charter and district schools, visit the Detroit Parents’ Guide to Schools website.