When Choice Isn’t a Straight Line | Families Empowered

When Choice Isn’t a Straight Line

Houston advocate: "It’s like a never-ending battle.”

09/06/2018 6:54:57 PM

Families Empowered
Empowered Parent Stories


“We have choice, and it’s important to advocate for your choice not only for a particular time but to do it in your community,” –Mary Courtney, Houston


Sometimes the journey to the best-fit school for your child isn’t a straight line.

Mary Courtney enrolled her two sons, Jeremiah and Christian, in a KIPP Houston school because she wanted a better-fit school for them. However, the boys’ public charter schools were not the best match for their needs. Mary Courtney was optimistic she could find a better environment for their needs.

“Even though I did pick KIPP Liberation for Christian and KIPP Peace for Jeremiah, which are a step up from the schools they were in, both of those schools are still not meeting my children’s needs,” Mary explains. “I think it’s important for parents to have school choice because not every school is going to be attuned to your child’s needs and abilities.”

Nine-year-old Jeremiah is an ambitious 3rd grader who is eager to learn. His natural take-charge personality is something that Mary Courtney would like to see accommodated more than at his current school. She exploring options to transfer Jeremiah to another KIPP campus.

Mary Courtney’s oldest son, the 11-year-old Christian, needs specialized attention. He suffers from learning disabilities which haven proven difficult to pinpoint. Doctos have misdiagnosed him multiple times for illnesses such as ADHD and bipolar disorder.

“He’s being misdiagnosed left and right,” Mary said. “It’s like a never-ending battle.”

“I have doctors and therapists writing me recommendation letters and telling me that Christian needs to be pulled out of this school and to find a new school that’ll meet his needs, whether if it’s homeschooling or private school or anything else,” Mary said.

Mary Courtney advocates for special education in her community, as a parent who understands the uphill struggle students and families face. She wants to make her story known while helping other parents understand the severity of mental illness.

“I’m involved in the community to let people know that mental illness should be known and that it is a real illness,” Mary Courtney said.

“Wherever I’m needed to advocate for a child on their behalf, I try to do so. As soon as your child is labeled as “Special Ed,” the dropout rate is much higher than a normal schoolchild.” she added. “You need to be out there advocating for your school to have a good special education program.”

Families Empowered’s mission is to empower families to engage in a marketplace of schools. By helping parents navigate the school marketplace, they become one step closer to understanding their school options and finding the best-fit school for their child.



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