Wednesday, July 20, 2011

School Safety and Education Go Hand in Hand

The Ohio mother who was jailed earlier this year for falsifying documents in order to send her kids to a different school is back in the headlines today, this time appearing at an Akron Parole Board hearing. The board will make a recommendation to Gov. John Kasich about whether Kelley Williams-Bolar should be granted clemency, as has been advocated by Kasich. The governor ultimately has the final say in whether she is granted clemency.

But the hearing itself is not the news (we’ve known about it for some time). Instead, it’s the characterization of the motives behind her actions, characterizations that suggest she wanted her kids to go to a different school for reasons other than “school choice.” Below is an excerpt from The Columbus Dispatch’s writeup of the hearing:
Gov. John Kasich and others have made the case about school choice, but Kelley Williams-Bolar told the Ohio Parole Board that her daughters’ safety, not their education, was her only concern.

Her attorney, David A. Singleton, said the idea she moved her children to another school so they could get a better education came from school-choice advocates and the media.
First, there is an implication by both Williams-Bolar’s attorney and the newspaper that somehow educational quality and feeling safe in school aren’t inextricably linked. Children perform better in environments where they feel safe, and common sense dictates that additional worries related to safety could distract and detract from the quality of education.

And second, they’re suggesting that “school choice” means giving parents’ choices based on singular reasons only. While we certainly advocate for targeted school choice programs (mainly for low-income children and kids with special needs), there are a multitude of reasons why parents exercise their options: safety is often foremost among them, as are things like class size, structure of curriculum, length of school day, geographic location, and extracurricular opportunities, just to name a few. Of course these are all related to education. To suggest that children who attend unsafe schools are not being shortchanged educationally is to misunderstand the nature of the issues facing our schools today.

We very much stand beside Williams-Bolar in her efforts—she, like far too many parents, deserved more choices for her children, and it’s those lack of options that Gov. Kasich had in mind when he signed into law a large expansion of the state’s flagship EdChoice voucher program.

But we hope those in the media will understand that the safety of her children isn’t an issue separate from ours—it’s in fact a fundamental part of the reasons we do what we do. Whether it’s unsafe schools or something else that impairs a child’s education, parents should be able to choose to send their kids somewhere else.

We hope that Kelley Williams-Bolar and thousands of other parents across the country get that chance.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG

1 comment:

  1. School safety is necessary and this help school admin. keep silent and peaceful. Protective Services