By Juan C. Porras

Throughout my education, I’ve asked myself the recurring question many students ask themselves – how will this prepare me for the future? Recently as National Charter Schools Week was celebrated, I was reminded how my public charter school provided me with an obtainable career path and the correct tools and resources to succeed. Growing up, I struggled with transferring through a series of underperforming traditional public schools as my parents had to move frequently for work. My ability to learn was severely hindered, and my parents feared I would soon begin falling behind.

My parents frantically searched for alternatives, but private schools were too expensive for a middle-class family of immigrants. At first, they were reluctant to consider a new charter school opening near our home. Admissions were on a lottery-based system and they were unsure if the school would accept a Hispanic child who had only a year left of middle school. My parents soon learned that by law charter schools must accept students who apply, regardless of their background. In fact, charter schools are made for students just like me.

According to a 2017 study of Florida’s public charter schools, 67.8 percent of students served were minorities. Hispanic students comprised 41.5 percent of Florida’s charter school enrollment, and 20.5 percent were African-American students. Opened in 2008, Pinecrest Preparatory Middle-High Charter quickly became a highly desirable option for students and parents in Miami. Being fortunate enough to be an alumnus of their third graduating class of high school seniors, I was able to experience an innovative and personalized style of education that I had yet to encounter in the traditional public school system.

I was also reluctant at first to attend a charter school, but looking back it molded me into who I am today.

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