My name is Bobbie Jager, and I’m a mom and grandma—13 children and 17 grand kids! They are all are equally wonderful, and I can now relate with my mom who used to say, “If I had known the grandchildren were going to turn out so well, I would have had them first!”
In 2012 it was my honor and privilege to be chosen as Oregon’s Mother of the Year. As a mother, I want school choice because I am advocating for Oregon’s future—the children of our state. It’s always been my desire that each of my children would find a path that would give them a spark to ignite their personal education “fuse,” and I want that for all Oregon children.
My passion for education options started because we were a military family who moved around a lot, and so we had a wide range of experiences with schools. When my first two children, both boys, entered the Department of Defense Elementary at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, Florida, they were getting by, but they weren’t prospering. I augmented their school work, as I always had, by reading to them at night and working with them to help with concepts that I thought the school should be teaching them but did not seem to be. I truly thought then that my children needed to work harder. But I quickly learned that the problem was not my children, but the teaching style and attitude of the teachers and administrators.
Unfortunately, my two sons were scarred from their first exposure to “one-size-fits-all” education. We later moved to Saudi Arabia, and my boys still struggled to find a spark at school that would ignite their interest in learning. Our 3rd child, a daughter, entered the school system there and was determined to do well. Her hard work paid off, and thankfully that’s how she lit her personal spark.
But when we moved again, this time to a base in Arizona, my children experienced some extreme bullying and very poor teachers. That’s when I first explored the option of homeschooling. After qualifying, I developed my own curriculum for our oldest four. I fell in love with homeschooling them, as there was a notable difference in their enthusiasm for education. I opened up a whole new world for them.
From that point forward, we changed their education paths, as needed, through several more moves. All said and done, we’ve tried them all: charter, online, private, public, and home schools. Children don’t all learn the same way, and parents are the best judges of that. Luckily, we were able to choose what was best for each of our children. But not all families have the same choices.
Choice is the key word. I realized that we can choose almost anything, in every part of our lives! We choose where to shop, go to church, eat, and even, for the most part, our medical care. But when it comes to choosing our child’s future, by choosing an education that best fits their style of learning, we are told “no.” Someone else, who knows nothing about our child, is usually the one who makes that choice.
There are some choices available to parents, but they come at a price. A price that many parents pay when they see their child not getting what they so desperately need. They may choose to pay for private schools, or pay in a parent’s time for homeschooling. And, even then, it may largely be out of the parent’s hands. Caps, limits, or lotteries are set in schools; and homeschooling may not be an option. The school may be too far away, or your child may not get in. All of this frustrates parents and students.
When hope is lost, and kids don’t feel they are capable or smart enough to succeed, they might give up too soon. That’s not fair to families without access to the limited choices currently available. And it’s not fair for the future of Oregon.
School Choice in Oregon is needed to provide the best education possible for each child. These are our children; and it is time, for us as parents, to use our voice to make the choice. The power of choice will finally give Oregon families the flexibility they need to find their children’s spark, wherever it may be.
I’m Bobbie and I’m a ‘Voice for Choice’
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