HOUSTON—If you’re looking for a great school for your children there are options in Houston and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.
Charter schools receive the same amount of funding per student as public schools, but in many ways, act like private institutions. Class sizes are smaller and school days are longer. Students are on campus for up to 10 hours and students are taught to be efficient with their time.
“In the hallways when we’re sitting down, (we) take out a book and start reading,” Ximena Reyes said.
Andrew Rubin, the school’s principal – or leader – sits not in an office, but at the end of the hall, so students can stop by and ask questions or just say hello. The goal, he said, is to prepare students for high school and beyond.
“We actually used to say ‘KIPP to college,’ now we’ve changed to ‘KIPP through college,’” he said.
Approximately 95 percent of the students at the school come from low-income families.
Ximena’s father, David Reyes, was thankful he had the option to send his daughter here.
“They made us do a commitment letter to help with their homework, and during the whole year, we are committed,” Reyes said.
Over in Northwest Houston, Lisa Stauber home schools her nine children.
“My husband worked at oil and gas, so we moved more than once a year. (Home school) was just easier than starting the kids at new schools in new states, two to three times a year,” she said.
Stauber said the advantage of home school is her children can learn at their own pace.
“When they fall short, or are struggling with a subject, we can spend as much time as we need too,” she said.
But she said her children aren’t cooped up all day. They belong to a home school group to socialize with other kids. And many of them are in extracurricular activities.
Stauber uses an online syllabus and reuses books to minimize the cost.
But there are drawbacks: Lisa works two jobs and scheduled doctor’s appointments during the week are difficult.
“I rely a lot on my friends and family,” she said.
Her advice to parents who have considered home schooling, but haven’t taken the plunge, is simple.
“You, as a parent, are fully equipped to educate your child and you know your child best. So ask questions, find other home school parents and just trust yourself.”
It’s never a dull day at The High School for Visual and Performing Arts in Houston.
The Houston Independent School District magnet school was the second of its kind in the country.
Here, students spend three hours a day honing their skills.
For Emma Daffin, it’s art.
“Ever since I could pick up a crayon I’ve been drawing,” Daffin said. “My mom definitely knew this was the right school for me.”
It’s a unique opportunity for the students who are lucky enough to get accepted.
Each year, around 1,600 audition, but only 200 get in.
“You have to love what you are doing to be committed and spend that kind of time, every day, every week for four years of school,” said HSPVA principal Scott Allen.
Allen said every student focuses on a fine art, but they still fulfill the requirements for math, science, and language classes, so they are prepared for any career.
“We have student who are lawyers, students who are doctors, they are all kinds of things,” he said.