Here’s to the parents who made education choice possible before it really was there
A little more than 18 years ago, I was wrapping up middle school and getting ready to start high school. At the time, I was supposed to go to Herbert Hoover High School near Clendenin. My mom didn’t think that Hoover was the best choice for me, or our family. There were a lot of reasons including their block scheduling system and my non-school-affiliated extracurricular activities.
But in 2003, West Virginia didn’t have the same educational choices that are available today. Shoot, even transferring from one public school to another was an ordeal — and one I’m forever grateful my mom undertook.
There was no shortage of hoops my mom had to jump through to enroll me at Capital. The specifics have gotten a little hazy due to the years in between. If memory serves, she first had to go downtown to the Kanawha County Board of Education office to get the specific, official transfer form. Then we had to go up to the old Hoover school building (RIP), talk with the principal, or whichever administrator, about why we wanted me to transfer, and get his signature approving the outgoing transfer. Following that was a trip back into Charleston to repeat the same process with the relevant administrator at Capital. After all that, we had to hand deliver the form back to KCBOE for them to approve the transfer.
As an added bonus, this transfer system was first-come first-serve. So, time was of the essence if my mom was truly serious about making sure I was in the high school that was the best fit.
So, that whole process I outlined earlier… Mom hustled and we checked all those boxes off and ran all those miles up in her minivan in one chaotic afternoon. The day the “transfer window” opened.
I was a lucky kid.
I have a mom who was willing, able, and determined to do what was best for me, despite how much of a pain in the hind parts the whole process was. Additionally, she was a stay-at-home mom that didn’t have to juggle an additional layer of scheduling with taking a day or afternoon off work to deal with that bureaucratic labyrinth.
Thanks to her, I was able to take the math classes I needed. I wasn’t at a school that would’ve scheduled for me to take Geometry in my freshman fall. That would’ve prevented me from taking Algebra 2 until spring of my sophomore year. I had access to vastly more AP courses — particularly AP Chemistry. And at the end of four years, I felt prepared for what I would encounter during my coursework as a WVU freshman.
Today, I wonder what she might have been able to do with a choice like the Hope Scholarship. The world looks so different today than it did in ’03. Affordable, accessible learning materials are more prevalent than ever. Any speculation I could offer would essentially be a stab in the dark.
But, given all that my mom did to get me into the right school for me 18 years ago, she would’ve been able to do some pretty remarkable things with a program like Hope at her fingertips.
Jessi Troyan is the Development Director for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.