Monday, July 25, 2011

Before She Departs, D.C.'s School Choice Champion Has One Final Message

We told last month about the impending departure of Virginia Walden Ford, and, most importantly, how much we'll miss her. You'll recall that the foremost champion for school choice in the nation's capital will be heading down to her hometown of Little Rock at the end of this month, and we take solace in knowing that our loss is Arkansas's gain.

But in typical Virginia fashion, she's determined to help kids down to the very end. She wrote a piece published in today's Washington Examiner, reminding readers that despite the reauthorization of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in April, the work doesn't stop:
We must fight vigilantly to protect and preserve this program so families will never again be turned away from the chance to access a quality education for their children. 
In the mid-1960s, I was among more than 130 students picked to desegregate public high schools on a large scale in Little Rock. Our nation has made great strides in improving education for all children since then; but our work is far from finished. 
Success is not defined by waiting lists and lottery systems; success is providing all children with an education that will prepare them for a productive and fulfilling life.
She's exactly right. And she would know, because it was Virginia who was there in the 1990s when the thought of introducing a voucher program to Washington, D.C. was dismissed. She was there in 2004 when the program began and enthusiasm was high. And she was also there in 2009 when prospects for the program's future looked especially grim.

And, of course, she was there this year, when her inability to back down from what was right paid off for thousands of kids in the nation's captal. Perhaps no single individual has done more for a single school choice program in this country than Virginia Walden Ford. She was there almost 50 years ago in Little Rock, she's been there for kids in D.C. for 15 years, and now, she's going to be there for a new community.

Everyone is going to be better off as a result.

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

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