The word "choice" in education is traditionally associated with private schools, home schooling or other alternatives to the public school system, but the Washington County School District is pursuing its own version of choice starting next school year.
District officials plan to roll out several new programs at area elementary schools in the fall, looking to give parents and students more opportunities to choose a particular focus or just get something different than the usual classroom offerings. Five area schools plan to open dual-language immersion programs in which students spend half their time learning in a second language. Several schools are considering science, technology, engineering and math - or STEM - programs. Two others are looking at an emphasis on the arts, and one school, Diamond Valley Elementary, already has plans to implement a program designed for gifted and high-ability students.
"I think it's great," said Jerry Olson, a parent who sends three of his children to the district's only dual-language immersion school, Dixie Sun Elementary, because he said learning in two languages gives them a leg up in brain development, as well as bilingual skills that should come in handy in an increasingly globalized 21st century economy.