School Choice Part 1: Public Education


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – It’s only February, but it’s already time to start thinking about the next school year for your kids. From public, private, charter and homeschooling options, it can feel like an overwhelming task to decide which fit will be right for your kid.

In this three-part series, ABC4’s Education Correspondent Sarah Martin will help you do some of that homework. In Part 1, we’re going to talk about some alternative public school options for your high school student.

You might remember your high school career as generally sitting behind a desk and shuffling between classes, but that is no longer a reality for hundreds of Utah students.

High school students are now learning to be diesel mechanics, contractors, and coders during their class time.

Rob Wilcox is a teacher and contractor who builds entire homes with students. He said, “This gives these kids an opportunity, particularly the kids who may not be as academic to find something in life that’s meaningful and fulfilling and provides them an opportunity eventually to own a home.”

Most districts in the state are connected to a technical program, like CTECH, Mountainland and SLCC. Students take college classes for college credits and certificates for less than five dollars a unit.

Deja Foronda studied diesel mechanics at CTECH; she said, “You get to do job shadows, you get to be in shops like Geneva Rock and Cummins and see them work, you get credit for it. There are so many pros, it’s insane.”

Start your search by finding what’s close to you and what’s available to your student on your school district homepage. Lean in to their interests and their skills. Technical programs are a fantastic way to find out if a field is right for them before they take out student loans for a degree they don’t want to use.

But maybe your student isn’t leaning towards a technical program, maybe they want to transfer for a specific athletics team or extracurricular. They’re in luck; Utah is an open enrollment state, meaning that students can transfer to any public school that hasn’t been deemed overcrowded by a local school board. All you need to do is submit an open enrollment application.

Finally, a major resource for parents is the State Board of Education’s Data Gateway. Parents can compare different schools in the state and get a clear picture of how each school is performing academically.

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