As an advocate for education freedom, I have spoken on many platforms to express the importance of change and the impact it can have on families and communities like my own. Though I have worked with individuals from various distinguished organizations, I would have never thought it possible to be invited to the White House to speak on behalf of others who are in a similar situation as me.
There are various programs across the country, such as the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, that school choice champion former Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai and other devoted officials have worked to put in place that allowed me to go to the school I attended, one of the more prestigious high schools in Pennsylvania.
My mother always emphasized the importance of high-quality education, and that wasn’t possible at my geographically assigned school. For me, the tax credit scholarship program offered in my state was the difference between needless failure and the opportunity for success.
“Implementing school choice opens doors that are otherwise slammed shut for the next generation of leaders, as it did for me.”
School choice is not complicated, parents or guardians know their children best and the way in which they learn. In these increasingly difficult times, children are more comfortable discussing the reality of their learning environment with their families than with school administrators or teachers. Implementing school choice opens doors that are otherwise slammed shut for the next generation of leaders, as it did for me.
The chance to tell my story to the President of the United States put my life on a new trajectory. It was especially meaningful in the wake of a loss my family suffered—my greatest role model and hero. He was my great uncle, Brian “Chico” Slade. His sudden passing robbed me of my mentor and left me bereaved. I like to think his resolve lives on in my life and the lives of all he interacted with—and he’s the reason I’ve dedicated myself to a life of service like his.
It’s amazing how two men who never met, my Uncle Chico and Speaker Mike Turzai, had such a similar impact on me to continue my education. Both men believed in me. One gave me the resolve and tools to succeed, and the other gave me the chance—by courageously advocating to expand Pennsylvania’s Tax Credit Scholarship program.
Sadly, where Speaker Turzai saw the need to expand student opportunity, others perceived a threat. Some legislators, and even Governor Wolf, could talk only of the price tag. But their claims that tax credit scholarships are “a raid on taxpayers” or “budget-busting” are lies: Pennsylvania’s EITC and OSTC programs save taxpayers’ money while opening the door to increased student success.
I am not a “raid on the taxpayer.” I am a future leader – and I save the state money with my school choice.