Why I Support School Choice – An Advocate’s Story
School choice opponents often make the claim that supporters, like me, want to “privatize education” or “dismantle public schools.” I am often accused of supporting something that undermines public education. There is no basis for these accusations, though.
I support public schools. I also support charter schools, private schools, homeschooling, blended learning, career-tech education… the list goes on. I support state-funded programs that allow families to participate in these school choice options because I know that while traditional public schools are a great option for many students, for others, they are not the right fit.
Some families are able to afford to move to a district that is the right fit for their children or to pay private school tuition. For many other families, though, these options do not exist. This is why I support state programs that focus on the student rather than the system, programs that invest in our students and provide them with the educational setting that is the right fit.
I support school choice because of moms like Jessica, whose son was struggling in his assigned public school. Jessica explained that although the public school tried everything it could to make it work, it wasn’t the right school to address her son’s autism and behavioral issues, and he wasn’t learning anything. Thankfully, there was a state-funded scholarship for special needs students that her son was able to use at a learning center. For Jessica, the scholarship was a “life-saver.”
I support school choice because of moms like Andrea, who has three children who attend private school. The school where her children were assigned was the wrong fit, but she couldn’t afford tuition for all three of her children. However, her family qualified for an income-based scholarship that covered tuition for her youngest child. As she explained, “I want my kids to reach their potential. Working with the community, what I have learned is that education will provide the ticket out of poverty.”
I support school choice because of students like Walter, who benefitted from a state-funded scholarship to attend a private school. Walter struggled academically in his assigned school, faced bullying, and was regularly in fights. His life turned around after he attended a local private school. He was able to go on to college and pursue a degree in journalism. As Walter explained, “If you would have told me maybe six or seven years ago that I would be in a place where I am…I would not have believed you.” The scholarship provided opportunities and a second chance for him.
Educational choice is about having options for students and empowering parents with the opportunities to choose the best type of program for their children. I support school choice so parents like Jessica and Andrea have the opportunity to find a better fit for their children and students like Walter can attend the school that’s right for them.
These stories drive my work every day on behalf of students and their families. With the help of school choice, I know there are thousands of students across the country who are now waking up every morning excited to go to school and learn. They are my motivation, and they are why I support school choice.