I grew up in Chicago, and what struck me most about my time there was the availability of educational choice. Yes, there were private schools. There were also a variety of options within the public education system…if you knew where to look and had the time and wherewithal to puzzle together the information.

Those school options allowed my parents to plot out a unique path for me. It was not the default path based on where we lived nor was it the educational path my older sister had followed a year ahead of me. It was the path that best fit my needs, and it was a path that allowed me to thrive.

I look back at how much work it must have been for my parents—neither of whom were natives of Chicago or working within the education sector—to understand the myriad of options beyond the default neighborhood school, how each of the schools performed, and how best to access them. Yet, they pieced it together well enough for me to feel nothing but gratitude for their hard work a few decades later.

Now as a parent of two young boys who are about to begin their journeys in the K-12 public education system of Colorado, I am so appreciative of the level of choice available to families in so many areas of the state, including the district I live in. 

However, I must admit that, despite working within the Colorado charter sector for over a decade, I was extremely overwhelmed by the multitude of options, the various data points for each school, and the differing enrollment processes and timelines.

I wonder how the many families, who are not part of the charter world or even remotely familiar with the public education system, navigate this complex world and work to make the best educational choices for their children.

Which brings me to my why: I thrive behind the scenes supporting others and love to bring ideas together to help elevate a cause or address a need. At CSI, I have the awesome opportunity to bring together my joy in helping others and my strong belief in and experience with educational choice. In my role overseeing our communications efforts, it’s rewarding to know we are working to expand awareness of one type of education choice in our state. I hope that, like my parents, families can use this information as they consider and select the best path for their children.

Janet Dinnen

Chief of Staff, Colorado Charter School Institute

Translate »