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School Choice: Why It’s Essential in America Today

by Kevin P. Chavous
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June 17, 2013

As the school year comes to a close, something remarkable is taking place in state legislative chambers across the country. In a span of two weeks, two legislative bodies have passed laws expanding school choice, and possible action in five other states could result in more than 33,800 new scholarship opportunities. That’s 33,800 children who will be lifted up through school choice.

Practically, this is the result of parents demanding the right to put their child in a school that best fits their child’s needs. Politically, it is because—like few issues these days—school choice transcends political parties.

Danahe, a refugee who struggled in her public school, received a scholarship in Iowa in the fall of 2012. She chose to attend a Catholic high school in West Des Moines thanks to the state’s scholarship tax credit program. When she first enrolled as a sophomore, she could not read, write or speak English. The program made it possible for her to attend a school where she is now flourishing through their Pathway to Success program. It is likely that Danahe has no clue that Iowa’s program expanded a few weeks ago, and received unanimous support from the Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.

Who cares about the bipartisan impact? Special interests who oppose empowering parents who wish to make the best educational choices for their children.

Prominent liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow used her blog on May 30 to discredit school choice as a policy initiative only supported by conservative Republicans.

But only nine days prior to this article on The Maddow Blog, former Clinton White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry spoke at the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit. He urged Republicans and Democrats to come together. “There’s an agenda here and it’s about our children and we’ve got to work together to make life better for them and to give them the kinds of schools, the education and the opportunities that they deserve in a country that’s as great as this one…” McCurry said.

In the coming days, the North Carolina legislature will debate legislation that would provide educational choice to low-income families. The Wisconsin, Ohio, and Arizona legislatures are considering expanding their existing school choice programs. And, in Louisiana, the legislature just fully funded the highly popular Louisiana Scholarship Program.

Torriana Treaudo, a mother in Louisiana, doesn’t think about the politics, and she doesn’t consider Maddow’s blog part of the dialogue. What she cares about is ensuring her children receive the best education possible. And, she’ll proudly tell you that both of her kids are thriving as a result of educational choice.

Danahe has hope, Torriana Treaudo has optimism, and thousands of additional children across the country have educational options because of the strong bipartisan support school choice is receiving nationwide.

The message is painfully clear to the opponents of expanding educational options: Educational choice is not a partisan issue because the education of a child is not a partisan issue.

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