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Choosing a School in America

Posted by kingdom on June 10, 2012

Hello, how are you today? Pleased to write this third news post to you in Talk of Entebbe from San Diego, California.

The headline to this blog is a little misleading, you see in American public education untill university [called college here] there is really no such a thing as choosing a school to attend. You can have choice if you can afford to send your child to a private school, many of them managed by the Catholic Church and other religious organizations. Cost: Average $10,0000.00 a year.

So, for the average parent, your only choice is the school in your school district.

Each area of so many people, for instance Makindye in Kampala, has what they call a school district. Since everyone in American has an address one way or the other, for instance on a telephone or electricity bill, or a receipt from the landlord for paying rent, it is not a very big problem to verify where you live. Imagine your bill reading: Sofia Nsibirwa, 10011 Makindye Rd., Kampala.

So, if you live within Makindye area, your child has to attend Makindye schools --  even if the school standard is not what you admire -- and you cannot choose to go to Nakawa. And the way this is ensured is when you apply for a place, the first thing you show is "proof of residency".

It is not uncommon, though, to see a parent look surprised when they are told  "Sorry, this is not your area school." "But I live just two houses away..." "Well madam, I don't dispute that but the school district map shows your area school is Kawafu for primary, Makindye Junior for "O" level, and Salama High for "A" level, see this..."

As you may expect,  Americans got fed up and they started what is called charter schools more than 10 years ago. A community, if well organized, can band and start a charter school. Many of the schools are very selective, but most can very much take in any student [for money reasons of course]. With charter school education, you may live in Makindye and have your chilld go to school at Kisubi.

Public schools are actually what we call government schools in Uganda.

There are many proponents and opponents of charter schools. They take away money from public schools, one side argues. No, they create competition and therefore improve educaiton, counters the charter side. If you are in a hurry to make judgment you may conclude that either side is fighting for a bigger slice of the pie: both charter and public schools get money from the State depending on how many students they enrol. The more students, the more money, of course, and the school district gets the money and distributes it to both its own schools as well as to charters.

Where do states get money from? The American taxpayer. Mostly property taxes, which actually is money forcibly collected from anyone who owns any size of house, apartment, business building anywhere. For ever. If you are familiar with "busuulu", this is that times 10,000.

Guess what, it is 9 p.m. here in California. Got to go to bed, because I'm up by 5 a.m. Monday morning. We are alll looking forward to "summer break" which starts Tuesday the 12th. Teachers and students are very upbeat; they look forward to enjoying the sun, the beach, berbecues for at least two months of holiday. With my job, I think I will be working until June 22nd. Then what do I do for the two months?

Till next time. God Bless you and our country Uganda. God Bless America.

K. Lwanga, Principal and writer.






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