OCEANSIDE — A charter school that prepares students for college celebrated parents’ and students’ ability to choose where they go for an education along with a mayoral candidate and former State Assemblymember last week.
Scholarship Prep Charter School stayed busy during the last week of January as it celebrated National School Choice Week. Held every year in January, National School Choice Week highlights the ability and benefits of a student choosing where they want to learn.
“One thing doesn’t fit everybody,” said Valerie Hobbs, the performing arts teacher and founding teacher of the school.
The ability to choose which school to send students enables parents to find the most suitable education for their children, according to Hobbs.
Different charter schools have different focuses. For example, North County Trade Tech High School offers students a focus on career technical training, while schools like Oceanside’s School of Business and Technology are more oriented toward business and science professions.
Scholarship Prep is for students in grades TK-8 that focuses on college preparation.
“Scholarship Prep offers things like performing arts, visual arts, soccer, basketball and Mandarin, which you can’t get at some of the other schools,” Hobbs said.
According to Principal Valerie Douglass, public schools can limit students by zoning them for a specific school based on where they live.
“We are specifically outreaching to different demographics and recruit families who are seeking support and rigor for their students’ education,” Douglass said. “But it’s also open to anybody, so it’s great to say, hey, if you want to come to our school and you’re aware of our mission and vision of getting our kids through college, then you’ll be able to choose to go to our school.”
According to Douglass, many of the school’s nearly 400 students come from Camp Pendleton families and families who have immigrated from all over Asia and Mexico.
On Jan. 31, students gathered outside the school in the morning to hear from speakers like former State Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, who is currently running for mayor of Oceanside.
Chávez has a background in education, having focused on it during his time as an Assemblymember, as a member of the Oceanside Unified School District Board of Education and as founder and director of the School of Business and Technology.
According to Chávez, everyone is different and certain pathways in education may work for some but not others.
“Some kids are very art-oriented but not as involved in science or numbers — that doesn’t mean one is better than the other, it just means kids are different,” Chávez said.
Chávez said there aren’t enough women in sciences and mathematics, and that is because they are set on a certain pathway at a young age due to their gender.
“By our gender we’ve been forced into different areas,” Chávez said. “We know that doesn’t work and it doesn’t meet the needs of society.”
According to Chávez, students need to start getting involved in their educational interests early.
“We do it for sports — we start kids in soccer at 5 years old,” Chávez said. “We got to do it for other things too.”
At Scholarship Prep, teachers like to get students thinking about possible colleges they could attend at a young age. Douglass explained that the school has a “university drive” in which the school identifies a list of colleges and universities that have high performance and graduation rates, and that score high for arts, academics and athletics.
During the Jan. 31 event, students wore shirts with emblems from colleges like Duke University, University of Oregon and University of Michigan, among others.
“We choose those colleges based on that list and talk to students from TK all the way to eighth grade about how you get to and through college,” Douglass said. “It’s not just about getting to college but getting through college.”
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son