Why Parents Need School Choice Today and Not Tomorrow

In a USA Today article entitled “School choice will lift up black community,” Mr. T. Willard Fair, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami, wrote:

“Nobody cared when, for decade after decade, black kids were assigned to failure factories that set them up for a life of poverty and dependency. But give the parents of these children a choice to select alternatives, and suddenly the people who care about where these students go to school come crawling out of the woodwork.”

He’s on point. We cannot stand idle any longer and allow not only black students but any student to be assigned to a failing school. All alternatives must be provided so that parents can decide what fits their child/children best and for students to have greater avenues for success.

As parents, that’s all my wife and I think about. From the beginning, we knew that we couldn’t just wait on the sidelines and hope that someone would fix this problem for us. We decided that we would not settle for fewer expectations of our children but give them confidence, in a learning environment, that would allow them to release their full potential.

I’ll never forget the day when Voletha told me that we would be celebrating the birth of our first son. It was by far the greatest day of my life. Looking back, in the months and days before his arrival, I never thought that one of the most important decisions we would make for him was not the type of diapers he would wear, or what car seat to place him in, or what type of health insurance he would have, college savings, pediatricians, dentists, etc. If you’re a parent, all those things are critical but the question of what neighborhood to live in and the type of school to enroll become exponentially important.

I’ve worked for two members of the United States Congress, three state legislators, and I was the director of Governmental Affairs for the Colorado League of Charter Schools. In these roles, I’ve spent years working for better options for kids but it became personal when I became a father. So, not only were my advocacy efforts a part of my professional life but it was now a personal mission for my family.

Malcolm X once said, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

On September 8, 2017, my wife and I will celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary. In the beginning, we didn’t realize the power of our voices, but we have become strong advocates for that now 7-year-old and his 4-year-old baby brother. We have seen the growth of our boys because we realized that our voices matter and the types of schools our sons attend matter.

I cannot express how imperative it is that community leaders, activists, clergy, elected officials, and business leaders alike, work together and support strong alternatives for students – regardless of what they look like. Let’s not sit on the sidelines and hope that someone else will advocate for our children better than we will. We are their greatest advocate because the future of our communities are depending on what we do today.