Choosing where your child goes to school is one of the biggest decisions you face. While it may feel intimidating to navigate your school options in Oklahoma and make a choice, you can do it! And remember, each child is unique. So, the “best” school for your neighbor’s child may be different than the “best” school for your child.
A great starting point for choosing a school is knowing your options, and this post will break down the six main learning environments in Oklahoma. In short, you can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
First off, most Oklahoma families choose traditional public schools, which are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. Did you know that Oklahoma spends $9,250 per public school student each year?
In Oklahoma, the state allows each district decides to set its own open enrollment policies. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. Oklahoma parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. Open enrollment is an important form of public school choice, widening parents’ options and ensuring that zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education.
Secondly, Oklahoma families can currently choose from about 30 public charter schools. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and typically have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they have extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods and are accountable to authorizing bodies for results.
Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. For example, that might be providing a Spanish immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system (like drawing random names out of a hat!) is usually used to determine admittance.
Depending on where you live, you can also choose magnet schools. These free public schools allow kids to focus on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the arts. Magnet schools teach all subjects through the lenses of that one track. Oklahoma has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state, and these might be a good option if your child learns best by focusing on a subject they are passionate about.
Additionally, Oklahoma’s private schools offer unique learning environments that may include smaller class sizes, a specific religious tradition, or a different curriculum than is available in your district school. Private schools do charge tuition, but Oklahoma students in certain underperforming schools or who meet certain income guidelines can qualify for state-run scholarship programs. If you think a private school may be best for your child, you can also ask if other funding is available through private sources.
Don’t overlook virtual education! It can offer a uniquely flexible learning environment that meets a variety of family needs. Maybe your child wants to accelerate learning or maybe your child needs a quieter, stress-free environment to focus in. Whatever the case, you may be interested in trying virtual school. Oklahoma offers several free, full-time online learning options for students, such as Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy and Oklahoma Connections Academy. Virtual school is different and it can feel like “drinking from a fire hose” at first. But for some families, it becomes the perfect fit. Find out more about all of Oklahoma’s virtual learning options here.
You can also choose homeschooling in all 50 states. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and allows for high levels of customized learning and flexibility. Check here for a great how-to about homeschooling in Oklahoma. You can also learn more at the Department of Education’s homeschooling page and Homeschool Oklahoma.
For additional information about school choices in Oklahoma, visit these resources:
National School Choice Week 2021 will take place January 24 – 30, 2021. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information!
Oklahoma celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 666 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Oklahoma.
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