GARLAND, Texas--Diana Diaz is proud to be an ILTexas parent. The decision to put her son in a charter school stemmed from her wanting to find a place that would expand his language ability. 

“[ILTexas] was a school that we didn't have to live in the district to go to,” she said. “It provided not only Spanish and English, but Chinese . . . so that's why we chose the charter program and ILTexas in particular.”

January 22-28 is National School Choice week, a time dedicated to letting parents explore all of the educational options that might be best for their child. With more than 90% of K-12 students in the United States enrolled in traditional public schools, School Choice allows parents to choose from options such as homeschooling, magnets, charters, and private schools, in addition to public school education. 

Jasmine Crutchfield, a senior at ILTexas Garland High School, is glad her parents enrolled her in the charter.

“They found out that the school was not like any other school we had in our community,” she said. “I started attending [ILTexas] in fourth grade and I have loved it ever since.”

Crutchfield specified the smaller class sizes as one of her favorite parts of the school. 

“Being in a smaller community definitely lets you get to know your peers more and be able to interact in more programs and clubs and just get to be together more,” she said.  

School Choice isn’t just limited to parents. It can be helpful educators too. In a time where teacher shortages in the U.S. continue to rise, choosing an educational environment that fits both personal and professional interests are what drew 5th grade Science and Social Studies teacher, Calvin Whitford, to come to ILTexas. 

“I chose to work at ILTexas because they've got a really great mission statement,” he said. “They emphasize the mind, body and character, but we teach three languages, the three most spoken languages of the world.”

Whitford also acknowledged the merit-based Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) program ILTexas offers as another reason for remaining with the charter.

“If the teachers really do a good job, and the students perform well on the standardized tests, then there's extra money involved in that,” he said. “The public schools were very reluctant to do that, or they paused to do that, whereas ILTexas was one of the first ones to jump on board.”

And for mom Diana Diaz, the power of choice has made a real difference.

“What I tell people is [my son] Christian can compete with any kid academically . . . but he can do it in English, and Spanish, and in Mandarin Chinese,” she said. “And so to me, that's the difference.”

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