Kristen Fouss, a math teacher at Anderson High School in Cincinnati, doesn't have to think about choosing a high school for her 5- and 8-year-old kids anytime soon. But when she starts her search, Fouss says she'll focus much of her decision on the school's technology.
"In my kids' high schools, I want to see what they are doing with technology, what resources do they have, and what will they be able to offer my kids," Fouss says.
Parents should also consider the importance of community among local businesses and parents when choosing their kids' high schools, Fouss recommends. At Anderson High School, for example, a local bank annually grants a scholarship to a senior, and parents are heavily involved in school activities.
"I came to Anderson 11 years ago, and it was amazing to me how many parents you see during the day," she notes. "At any given time, there are parents helping with this, or running copies, or running the [school] bookstore."
[Read why students learn better with engaged parents.]
Landers, of the National PTA, says that parents should ask how they can get involved when they are deciding on their kids' high school.
"Find out, first and foremost, is there a PTA? Is there a parent group where you can become more involved?" she says. "It will help you know more about the school, the administration, [and] the teachers so you can successfully navigate your child through perhaps the most important schooling they're going to have."
The Clemons family strongly believes in parent engagement, too. Not only should parents visit schools in person when deciding on schools, but Erik says they should continue that involvement throughout the students' entire educational careers.
"Engage the school system on every level," he suggests. "Be at every meeting, so that you're seen and heard such that the district and the specific school take you seriously. My wife and I modeling that for our children implicitly lets them know that this is serious."
Stay up to date with the U.S. News High School Notes blog.