Thursday, August 1, 2013

Education Choice Topic of Conversation on Capitol Hill

This week education advocates, students, parents and lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill to discuss the need for parents to have a say in their child’s education. The Alliance for School Choice had a front row seat at the table, as executive counsel Kevin P. Chavous was one of the panelists.

Hosted by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the discussion centered around the need to expand educational choice for students trapped in underperforming schools.

The students who addressed the group represented a variety of educational choice backgrounds from former and current charter school students to those receiving scholarships to attend the school of their parents’ choice through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). The students, also diverse in their learning needs, represented the thousands of students who have found academic success thanks to their parents’ having a choice in their education.

One student, a former D.C. OSP scholarship recipient, recounted how her ability to study multiple languages in her choice school, lead her to pursue a degree in Asian Studies, and ultimately a job overseas in a local Japanese government.

Other students discussed how their choice school saved them from potentially becoming another inner city statistic. All of the students agreed that college was in their future thanks to their ability to access a high-quality education.

In his remarks before the panel, Kevin discussed the need to depoliticize the issue of educational choice and return the focus on what is best for students. He suggested remedy to solving our nation’s education woes: “the only way we are going to shake up this one-size-fits-all approach to education is by putting power in the hands of parents.”

The stories told by the students, parents, school administrators and advocates all had one clear message: education choice works.

No child should be locked out of the American Dream based on their family’s income or their ZIP Code. We hope the conversation will continue on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures across the country to find the best ways to put the power of education choice in the hands of parents.  
Kevin (center) with D.C. OSP students Ryan (left) and DeAndre (right)

Panelists with Sen. Rand Paul

-American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, Kristen Tyagi

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