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Smart Moves : Finding the Best Schools for Your Kids

March 10, 1996

What kind of cultural diversity exists among the teaching, clerical and custodial staff? Is the cultural diversity of the staff a model reflection of an equitable world or that of an oppressive society? What kind of cultural diversity exists among the student population? Is it reflective of our society? Does the school's curriculum expose the children to our country's plethora of cultural diversity. Does it teach mutual respect and tolerance for each other?

Concerned parents should be mindful of equity issues that girls and women face. Are girls given the same opportunities as boys? Are girls encouraged to take advantage of such opportunities? Are the role models for the girls valued and rewarded by society?

LUIS ROJAS

Science Educator

Sunrise Elementary School

Los Angeles

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I am the parent of a 9-year-old daughter. My husband and I are shopping around for a public school for her when she reaches fifth grade. The first thing I would look for is student-driven curriculum. That is to say, is there time for individual attention? We do not want a "sage on the stage" but rather a "guide on the side."

Is multiculturalism embedded in the curriculum for a global perspective of the world? Are teachers willing to spend extra time with individual students? Do teachers make regular contact (both positive and negative) with parents? Are parents welcome on campus? Is parent participation valued? Are ethics and character part of the curriculum? Are students given a chance to reflect on their work and not just receive a grade?

JUDITH ANDERSON HERNANDEZ

Los Angeles

The writer is a middle-school teacher at Forshay Learning Center, Los Angeles.

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The school's philosophy should match that of the child and his/her family. Class size, curriculum, parental involvement and test scores all share an equally important part in the decision-making process. I feel that the mutually shared philosophy is of utmost importance.

VICTORIA MILES

The writer is a teacher at Broad Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles.

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