School Choice Week 2021 : A Quality Education
We affirm the right of every child to a quality education. As Frederick Douglass famously said, "Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave."
As we prepare to celebrate National School Choice Week, so many things come to my mind. The months of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused parents everywhere to look at how their children are being educated. I think back to a time when we became so concerned about our children and began looking for ways to help them get the education they deserved. Almost 20 years ago, my life changed. I was a young mother, watching my son get caught up in a negative lifestyle. I saw him getting in trouble and not going to school. It frightened me and I knew I needed to do something to help him succeed. I began a journey to help my child and found that there were many parents who felt the same. I learned that by speaking out and becoming an advocate for him, I could make a difference. By working with other parents and using our voices we could all change our children’s educational experience. Standing shoulder to shoulder with parents and supporters in Washington, D.C., we fought to ensure our children had options that gave them a chance of receiving a quality education. In 2004, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was signed into law by President George W. Bush. We saw children begin to succeed in ways that were amazing. In the years since, I have watched thousands of children graduate from high school, attend and graduate from college, and go on to have successful lives. These children were recipients of scholarships to attend schools of their families’ choice. As we move forward, I hope that we are able to continue to work with families to obtain opportunities to choose schools that work best for their children. I have been encouraged over the years so see that many around our country have chosen to support and provide all kinds of opportunities for our children’s educational future through school choice programs. I am hopeful that we will continue to do more in the future. Giving parents a voice has been a determining factor in changing the educational outcomes for our children. We must stand strong together—parents, educators, supporters, policymakers, and the Biden administration. I hope that united, we will all fight for the best for our children. Happy National School Choice Week, America!
By Virginia Walden Ford Virginia Walden Ford Virginia is a national board member and a founding member of The Black Alliance for Educational Options, Inc. She also serves on the D.C. Advisory Committee of the US Civil Rights Commission, and serves as executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, Inc. which she founded in 1998.
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