Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers launched attacks against those who seek educational freedom for their children, labeling them the “polite cousins of segregation.” Regardless of the fact that Ms. Weingarten is ignoring the history, and even though millions of disenfranchised families across the country are embracing school choice, our organization is compelled to respond. The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, released the following statements.
Statement from Kevin P. Chavous, founding board member of the American Federation for Children:
“If vouchers are the polite cousins of segregation, then most urban school districts are segregation’s direct descendants. The vast majority of our urban public school districts are segregated because of white flight and neighborhood neglect. Would Randi support court-ordered busing today to remedy the real problem of segregated public schools? Of course not. Better yet, how about agreeing to one simple standard: no school will be allowed to open its doors to children if the school funders and administrators won’t send their kids to that school. Since Randi won’t agree to that approach either, the rest of us will continue to fight for equal access to the same quality public and private schools that the privileged few unabashedly enjoy.”
Statement from Traci Woodard, parent of a student who used the Educational Choice Scholarship Program in Ohio:
“How dare Randi Weingarten accuse someone like me of being aligned with segregationists, when all I’ve wanted to do was give my son the chance to have an opportunity with his education. Our local public school was classified as a failing school. I thank God that my son had the chance to use a voucher, because I knew he’d end up six feet under or in prison if I kept him in that dangerous public school environment. He thrived in his new private school, and is now in college studying to be a journalist. I’ll never apologize for fighting to give my son a better life.”
Statement from the Wisconsin Federation for Children and School Choice Wisconsin:
“We are pleased that both houses of the legislature have now agreed to expand the number of families eligible for school choice. Last week, Assembly Republicans acknowledged that they would be willing to raise the income eligibility limit in the statewide program to the level long enjoyed in Milwaukee and Racine – 300 percent of the federal poverty level. This week, Senate Republicans agreed to raise the income limit to 220% of the federal poverty level. We are hopeful that in the end, both houses will conclude that all of Wisconsin’s children should have the same opportunity to attend the school of their parent’s choosing. We encourage the legislature to take this step towards equality. A child’s educational opportunities should not be determined by their zip code.”
Yesterday, at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP) and cosponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, school choice opponents attempted to link today’s private school choice movement with Jim Crow-era efforts to resist desegregation by providing white students with vouchers to attend private schools. The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, released the following statements.
Statement from Kevin P. Chavous, founding board member and executive counsel for the American Federation for Children:
“Quoting flawed research and making specious links to Jim Crow-era tactics cannot diminish the fact that today’s private school choice movement has been overwhelmingly embraced with open arms by minority families across the country.
“Moreover, research shows that test scores, graduation rates and the number of students enrolled in college have improved because of vouchers, tax credit scholarships, and Education Savings Account programs. The vast majority of students seeing these benefits are from low-income, working-class, and minority families.
“CAP chose to ignore the most recent research on the academic performance of voucher programs, including the recently released study showing improved academic achievement for Louisiana Scholarship Program students.
“Instead of spreading misinformation and staying wedded to the policies of the past, these groups should work to create an education model that provides equal opportunity for high-quality education options for every child.”
Statement from Ann Duplessis, board member for the American Federation for Children and president of the Louisiana Federation for Children:
“For the Center for American Progress Action Fund and American Federation of Teachers to conflate segregationists’ tactics of the past with the present-day school choice movement is an insult to the nearly 440,000 parents nationwide who use private school choice options to level the playing field.
“Today, more than 94 percent of Louisiana parents who participate in the Louisiana Scholarship Program say they are satisfied with every aspect of the program, where 89 percent of the participants are minority students.”
Educational choice continues momentum across the country
The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, congratulates Darin Chambers for his victory today in the Republican primary for the House District 46 special election in Oklahoma.
Statement from Tommy Schultz, National Communications Director for the American Federation for Children:
“The American Federation for Children is committed to supporting candidates who support parents’ right to choose the best education for their children. Darin Chambers’ victory today is just the latest proof that standing with parents is the right thing to do, as voters continually support candidates who want to empower families and increase options for their child’s education. We are glad to support candidates like Chambers, in any party, that want to ensure families have that freedom and that will stand for the interests of children in the K-12 educational system.”
Chambers received the most votes in a competitive three-candidate race. AFC’s in-state committee, the Oklahoma Federation for Children Action Fund, supported Chambers in this special election through independent expenditures. Candidates that support school choice in Oklahoma who received support from the Oklahoma Federation for Children Action Fund have overwhelmingly seen electoral success. Chambers continues the trend that has seen 13 out of 16 Republican choice supporters win Republican primaries or advance to runoffs since 2014.
American Federation for Children is the nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization and works across the country to help secure additional, high-quality educational options for families.
The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, welcomes Ann Duplessis, the President of the Louisiana Federation for Children, to its board of directors.
“We are incredibly pleased to announce that Ann Duplessis, a distinguished leader in the education reform movement in Louisiana and across the nation, has joined our board of directors at the American Federation for Children,” said Bill Oberndorf, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “As the nation’s voice for educational choice, we will continue to proactively advance the idea that students and families deserve to have educational options that they’ve been demanding in every state—whether that is in a traditional district school, charter school, magnet school, private school, or through online learning and blended models. With Senator Duplessis’ exemplary leadership in advocating and enacting this philosophy, our organization is now stronger with her service on our governing board.”
Ann Duplessis is currently the president of the Louisiana Federation for Children and Senior Vice President of retail banking, marketing and sales, and strategic planning for Liberty Banking and Trust. In 2004 Duplessis was elected to the Louisiana legislature as Senator for District 2, serving New Orleans East, Holy Cross, and the Lower Ninth Ward communities. While in office, Senator Duplessis ushered the school choice movement into New Orleans and the entire state.
“I would like to thank AFC for this exciting opportunity to help more families and their children,” added Ann Duplessis. “I have seen firsthand the amazing work AFC does to empower parents and help every child attend a quality school and reach their full potential through educational choice. I look forward to continuing this important work and carrying on this mission while serving on AFC’s board of directors.”
Last week, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a new survey, “What Teens Want from their Schools: A National Survey of High School Engagement,” which reinforces the growing belief that our nation’s one-size-fits-all education system does not work for every student in the classroom. The American Federation for Children Growth Fund proudly supported the research and development of this compelling report— the first study, to our knowledge, that groups students according to how they are most engaged in school.
“AFC Growth Fund is proud to partner with Fordham for this research illustrating the importance of customization and choice in education,” said Tommy Schultz, National Communications Director of the American Federation for Children. “As school choice advocates, we know engagement in the classroom and a tailored learning environment can make all the difference for a student. This research confirms that students learn and approach education in a number of different ways and that engagement in the classroom ultimately impacts their success. It’s easy to see from this report that a blanket approach to education shouldn’t be the operating mindset going forward, and, furthermore, that a full range of educational options and personalized learning should be available to maximize student success and satisfaction.”
The Fordham Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 students in grades 10-12 to measure student engagement, identify student segments and explore the characteristics these students have in common.
- Public district school students are the least satisfied with their school overall (35 percent), and private religious school students are most satisfied with their school (69 percent).
- 28 percent of students report that they have considered dropping out, and 42 percent report that they don’t see value in the schoolwork they are asked to do.
- 83 percent of students report they are intrinsically motivated to learn and apply themselves in school.
- Students also report their teachers greatly influence their engagement and connectedness to school, they value connecting and having time with peers, and they enjoy using technology in the classroom.
- Private school students were more likely to choose to attend their current school when given a choice to attend any nearby school.
Click here to read the full report.