Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Next Generation of School Choice Champions

Many of the folks who have been fighting to give kids educational options have worked in this movement for many years—just take a look at the Alliance for School Choice's John T. Walton Award Winners to get an idea of some of the most committed school choice champions.

But another group of those engaged in helping kids through school choice weren't even around (or were still crawling around) when the first private school choice program in America was enacted, over two decades ago. For them, the fight has been a more recent one, meaning less perspective and awareness of the long, hard work that preceded them.

You might think that that would dampen their interest and engagement in bringing kids school choice.

But you'd be wrong.

Recent days and weeks have ushered in a flurry of commentary from young people on why school choice is so important. Some of them were beneficiaries of the scholarships that rescued them from failing schools, and others weren't.

The one thing they all have in common, though, is a realization that it's going to soon be up to a new generation of leaders to carry the torch for educational equality for all.

A piece by a University of Rochester junior published in today's issue of a campus newspaper, The Campus Times, shows the knowledge of and conviction about school choice among many students today:
Instead, it’s time to call for more school choice. Every child is different from one another, and each one deserves the freedom to attend a range of schools that cater to individual educational needs.  Whether it’s establishing charter schools and magnet schools, opportunity scholarships, offering tax credits to offset education expenses or helping families that home-school, all kinds of school choice should be celebrated. 
It’s about making all American schools more effective and motivating through common-sense solutions that emphasize flexibility, innovation and accountability. We must end the era where a postal code decides what school you’re assigned to and begin a new era that empowers parents to choose what is best for the student. 
School choice has slowly been on the rise as of late, aided in part by the September 2010 release of “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary chronicling the lives of several families trying to get their children out of failing schools and into successful ones, made possible by school choice. 
Several media outlets have even dubbed 2011 the Year of School Choice, and rightly so. Starting with the first annual National School Choice Week in January, school choice legislation has been passed in at least 12 states this year, and another 30 states have had legislation introduced. School choice is even growing in the social media sector, where innovative outlets like Choice Media TV have opened up.
The full piece is available here, and you should definitely check out a few more pieces. The folks at National School Choice Week have posted a series of pieces from college students over the past few weeks, and you can check them all out by visiting their blog here.

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

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