School Choice Now! is the official blog of the American Federation for Children, the nation's voice for educational choice. We seek to improve our nation’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.
The monumental decision allows
thousands of Indiana students to continue to receive the education of their
parent’s choice, ensuring all students are given same opportunities, no matter
their parent’s income or their zip code.
Currently, more than 9,300 low-
and middle-income students receive scholarships to attend one of 289
participating schools through the Choice Scholarship Program.To be eligible for the program, students
qualifying for the federal free-and-reduced lunch program ($42,643 for a family
of four) can receive a scholarship worth up to 90 percent of the state tuition
amount. Children from families who earn up to 150 percent of the free-and-reduced
lunch eligibility ($63,964 for a family of four) are eligible for a scholarship
for up to 50 percent of the tuition amount.
- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, KMS
A recent survey conducted by the Louisiana Federation for
Children and the Black Alliance for Educational Options found that an
overwhelming majority – 92.5 percent of parents are either “satisfied” or “very
satisfied” with their child’s scholarship school! The direct mail survey also found that 93.6 percent of
parents are happy with their child’s academic progress; 99.3 percent of parents
said they feel their child is safe at their scholarship school; and 98.1 percent
of parents said they feel welcome when they visit their child’s scholarship
This sentiment rang true as hundreds of Louisiana
scholarship families and education reform advocates packed the steps outside of
the Louisiana State Supreme Court in New Orleans yesterday to show their
support for their educational choice.
With the mantra “put kids first!” families made their voices
heard preceding a Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of the program’s
Nearly 4,700 students are currently enrolled in the
Louisiana Scholarship Program.To
qualify for the program, students must be enrolled in an underperforming or
failing school and have a family income not exceeding 250 percent of the
federal poverty guideline ($57,625 for a family of four).
AFC's Kevin P. Chavous firing up the crowd at the Louisiana rally
-American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice - KMS
Growing up in Northwest Detroit, I watched many of my
peers struggle through school – some even dropped out.What kept me motivated was the fact that I
knew getting my high school diploma and making it to college were mandatory steps
in achieving my dreams.I also was lucky
to have a supportive mother who kept me grounded and motivated.
Like my high school peers, students drop out for myriad
reasons.There is one thing that is
certain, we need to do more as a country to ensure these students have every
opportunity to avoid becoming another “inner city statistic.”
Providing children with the opportunity for a better
tomorrow starts with a good education.The one-size-fits-all approach to educating students is obviously not
working.We need to provide families
with greater access to educational options, ensuring each and every child has
the opportunity to receive an education that addresses his/her individual
In 2011 I founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in
an effort to give children in my hometown with access to a quality education in
a positive environment.Currently the
Academy is serving over 200 ninth and tenth grade students selected at random
with a robust educational experience.Students at the Academy receive a leadership-focused education with the
goal of inspiring students to ultimately graduate with a college degree.
The Academy is just one example of an educational option
that is working to address the needs of economically-disadvantaged
students.We must take the steps
necessary to provide students with access to the education that works best for
their needs if we ever hope to solve the issues that plague our inner-city
By ensuring every student has access to the best education possible, we can
help prevent more students from becoming statistics.We must call on our elected officials to work
together to provide students with educational options, giving them a chance to
receive a quality education that works for their needs.
Through my work with the American Federation for
Children, I hope to help raise awareness of the plight of low-income and
minority students across the country stuck in schools that do not address their
individual learning needs.These
students deserve every opportunity available to help them rise above their
current economic situation and achieve their dreams.
Momentum is building in Tennessee
for private school choice, as Governor Haslam's proposed private school choice
bill was passed with a 9-4 vote by the House Education Committee on
Tuesday.The companion bill is set to be
discussed by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, March 21. If passed,
the bill would only children zoned to attend the bottom five percent of failing
public schools and who qualify for free or reduced lunch to participate in the
program.The program would also be
initially capped at 5,000 children, while 35,000 children are expected to be
eligible for the program.
A broader private school choice
proposal has been introduced that does not include the failing schools
Students deserve to have access
to the best education possible.Let’s
hope the program allows for as many children as possible to receive the education that works best for their individual learning
Thousands of families across the country have thousands of unique reasons why their assigned public school does not work for their child’s needs. These myriad reasons are exactly why educational options are necessary in order to deliver each and every child an education that works best for their individual needs. For many families – especially those who are low-income – their ability to choose the best education for their child is limited based on financial constraints.
Parental choice or opportunity scholarship programs are a lifeline that allow low-income families to have the same choices taken for granted by higher income families. Nearly 250,000 students across the country are seeing the benefits of such programs.
Jason Bedrick, Visiting Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, recently drafted a piece for Educationnext in support of scholarship tax credit programs.
“There is clear evidence that students benefit by participating in educational choice programs,” said Bedrick.
“Under the status quo, wealthy families already have school choice while low-income families do not,” continued Bedrick. “Wealthy families can afford to live in districts with high-performing government schools or to send their children to private schools. By contrast, low-income families generally only have one choice: the local assigned government school.”
Assigned public schools may work for many students. For those students not being adequately served by the status quo, educational options are a must! This sentiment was echoed in a letter to the editor featured in the Tampa Bay Times from Manuel L. Sykes, president, NAACP St. Petersburg. Writing in support of FL Senator Marco Rubio’s proposed tax credit scholarship bill, Sykes says, “Two-thirds of the 50,000 low-income students on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship are black or Hispanic. They were the lowest performers in the public schools they left behind and are now making the same academic gains as students of all income levels nationally. Just as encouraging, the public schools most impacted by the scholarship are experiencing higher learning gains.”
Whether on the left or the right of the political spectrum, we can all agree that providing the highest quality education to each and every student needs to be our nation’s number one priority. If the traditional public school does not work for a student, families need every