Does school choice always have to be about private schools?

At its best, nothing is more unifying and vital to a community’s civic health than a high-quality neighborhood school. Why, then, do all notions of “school choice” end up being about private schools?

Many New Hampshire public schools are offering a variety of personalized, flexible opportunities for students to learn in a way that works for them, while providing the rigor that will give students the competitive advantages needed to pursue the future they want after high school.

Fall Mountain Regional School District is working to create more choices for students through expanding Career and Technical Education programs and personalized learning initiatives. Because student needs evolve as the world does around them, they use careful planning and long-term needs assessments to continually improve and expand their offerings.

Pittsfield Middle High School has transformed its school culture and improved student outcomes through community partnerships and programs like Extended Learning Opportunities, where students’ interests and passions are central to their learning.

Schools across the country are working to create more responsive learning environments for their students. In California, Oakland SOL–a new dual-immersion middle school in the Flatlands section of Oakland–is the city school district’s first new school in more than a decade.

Created over three years of hard work and careful planning by a motivated group of local students, parents, and educators, Oakland SOL paints a different picture of school choice — one that is squarely grounded in the aspirations of the families and children who will comprise its community core.

“If we can provide programs that help them make the choice to stay in our district, I think that’s fiscally responsible,” said Katherine Carter, SOL’s founding principal. “It shows the district cares about creating quality experiences for our kids and our families.”

Oakland SOL is a 180 production co-produced by Rob English and Sam Chaltain.

Additional Materials:

  • Pittsfield Middle High School’s Journey to Competency Based Learning: Pittsfield Superintendent John Freeman talks about the community-wide effort to identify the type of education they wanted for their children. By listening to parents, students, educators, and community members, they created a personalized learning environment that has become a national model for school improvement.
  • Ready in the 603: We interviewed 250+ students across NH and asked them what opportunities really helped to prepare them for what they wanted to do after high school. In these 2 minute clips, students of all backgrounds, learning styles and achievement levels tell us how career exploration programs at their local schools are giving them a competitive advantage.
  • A Perfect Storm: This series of videos offers a stirring look behind the scenes as the public schools of New Orleans became charter-only after the horrible effects of Hurricane Katrina. The series provides a powerful testimonial to the outcomes and processes that choice policies have on communities of color. See the entire series at
  • Dual-Language Programs Boost Student Achievement in English, Study Finds: English-language learners assigned to dual-language-immersion classrooms in the Portland, Ore., school district were more likely to be classified as English proficient by 6th grade when compared to peers enrolled in traditional classes, a new study by the RAND Corp. found.