Reimagining Education

Shun-ta Washington

My name Shun-ta Washington and I am the parent of two transfer students. My oldest started in the transfer program last year as an 8th grader at Francis Howell and just started back this year as a freshman. My youngest just entered Kindergarten in Francis Howell this year.


I chose to transfer my oldest child when she was going into 8th grade knowing that these were critical years of education for her before college. When they threatened to end the transfer program and told me my children would have to go back to Normandy I knew I didn’t want my kids to be guinea pigs in an experiment for three years. I especially didn’t want my high-school student to compromise three years before college and then have to transfer her senior year to graduate from an accredited school or worse graduate from an unaccredited district.

I didn’t get to graduate from high school so I really want better for my children. After transferring last year, there was no turning back even if I had to move out to St. Charles. You never want to hear your child say their teacher was cussing at school. We don’t even cuss in our own home. There is no respect for the students in Normandy, which is probably why the students don’t have respect for their teachers and education.


Our experience at Francis Howell last year and this year have been nothing but positive. They have been very accepting of my children. I was worried they would be treated differently since they came from a failing district. Francis Howell took the time out to let the kids adjust to their new environment and never made them feel different. She has more 1-on-1 attention from teachers because the class sizes are much smaller with 16-18 students per class as opposed to 30 plus in Normandy. I’m grateful that my daughter was able to return since she was really looking forward to being able to go back. Francis Howell teachers accepted them back with open arms again this year.


The biggest issue I have had was with the timing of the state board’s decision to let receiving districts decide if they would accept the transfer students back. It didn’t leave enough time for districts to make decisions and resulted in my children returning 3 weeks after the start of the school year. I deserve to know at least one month in advance where my child will be going to school for many reasons. I didn’t know which school I was shopping for so I lost $300 buying uniforms for Normandy. I needed to arrange my work schedule accordingly well in advance. And worst of all, my children felt left behind starting 3 weeks late. It is unacceptable and unfair to families not to have all these decisions made well before the start of the school year.

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