Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Parental Involvement and School Choice

AFC Senior Advisor today testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education to speak about how school choice increases parent and student involvement.

During his testimony, Chavous mentioned the highly successful Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, and the recently expanded Students Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program in Louisiana.  But, he noted that the numbers don’t tell the story of why school choice is the best form of parental engagement; it’s really about the families and faces that are benefiting from school choice around the country.

Answering questions from Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Chavous testified that not only do school choice programs save money, but offer a host of options for families.

“In my experience, when you have more options, you have more parental engagement,” he said. “And we see that in Milwaukee, Florida, Louisiana, and D.C.”

Following Chavous’ testimony, Gwendolyn Eaddy-Samuel, President of the Connecticut Parents Union, spoke about parent trigger legislation in Connecticut.  But Eaddy-Samual also testified as a parent, calling for all educational options tools for parents because they are the ones responsible to ensure that all children receive a quality education.  Eaddy-Samual doesn’t want to be rescued, she said, but instead wants to have access to options so she can make the best educational decisions for her children.

Todd Ziebarth from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools noted that charter schools also offer a high level of parental engagement.  Ziebarth also noted that more states are working to increase access to charter schools.  Operating in 41 states with 5,600 schools educating more than 2 million children, charter schools represent a growing option for families.  In fact, states are working to lift artificial caps, equalize funding, and be implemented in the remaining nine states.

And it wasn’t just the witnesses that were touting school choice and parental engagement.  Rep John Kline, the committee chairman, noted the importance of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and the incredibly touching stories that he heard from parents and grandparents who are thankful to have options beyond the failing public schools.

In the end, Chavous called for lawmakers to depoliticize the issue of education reform.  Calling out both Democrats and Republicans, Chavous told lawmakers to put party ideology aside and put the needs of children first.  

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

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