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.
Support for private school choice programs is strong in
the Lone Star State! According to a
recent poll conducted by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the
Texas Public Policy Foundation, majority of Texas voters support school
The polls found that overall, 66 percent of voters are
supportive of vouchers, and only 27 percent oppose. According to the poll results, the strongest
support was among Latino voters with 80 percent in support of vouchers.
The survey also found that 72 percent of voters are
supportive of tax-credit scholarship programs, with 20 percent opposed.
The poll, administered by Braun Research, Inc. was conducted
March 19-27, 2013 through landline and cellphone interviews with over 600 Texas
Dr. Condoleezza Rice called educational choice the most
important education reform she sees today, as more than 800 reformers,
community business members, legislators and educators listened intently to the
panel discussion at the 2013 Leadership for Change! Louisiana Education
“They key to not being trapped in the circumstances of your
birth is a quality education,” Rice said.“It doesn’t matter where you come from; it matters where you are going.”
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, writer and journalist
Campbell Brown, Former California Democratic Majority Leader Dr. Gloria Romero
and former Louisiana State Senator Ann Duplessis all joined in the panel
discussions about education reform in Louisiana, with the American Federation
for Children’s executive counsel Kevin Chavous moderating.
“What is NOT a measure of success is the same ol’, same
ol’,” Chavous said.
That’s why Louisiana’s legislators are fighting hard this
legislative session, which began April 8, to protect the landmark Louisiana
Scholarship Program that was expanded by a bipartisan group of legislators in
2012.It allows students from
low-to-middle income families with students enrolled failing and low-performing
schools to use a scholarship to attend the school of their choice.Students entering kindergarten for the first
time who meet the income limits are also eligible.
Former Secretary of State Rice told the audience that Korean
children learn in third grade what children in fifth grade learn in the United
States, “even in the best of schools.”Rice encouraged everyone to remember to fight back against the pervasive
soft bigotry of low expectations when it comes to K-12 education.
That’s precisely why Gloria Romero said Louisiana’s
education reforms are key: “If you don’t educate, you will incarcerate.We’re spending all this money to lock up the
failed result of our public education system.”
Despite bills taking aim at the Louisiana Scholarship
Program during this year’s legislative session, Governor Jindal is standing
strong to protect the reforms that are serving nearly 5,000 children across
“We’ll pass these reforms as many times as it takes to
provide the kids of Louisiana with a quality education,” Jindal said.
As we reported last week, President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget includes no new funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, preventing many low-income students from accessing the successful program.
At a House Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on April 11th on the president’s budget, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan discussed the administration’s vision for educating America’s students. When asked about the administration’s decision to not add additional funding for the D.C. OSP - a program as Maryland Representative Dr. Andy Harris (R) points out has made graduating from high school a reality for many students zoned for schools in need of improvement - Secretary Duncan said, “I’d be very surprised if those improvements were very dissimilar to what’s going on at the rest of D.C. public schools.”
According to last federal evaluation of the program in 2010, 91 percent of children who used their D.C. opportunity scholarships graduated from high school - 21 percent more than those who sought but did not receive a scholarship and 30 percent higher than D.C. public schools. Subsequent research by the program administrator for 2010 and 2011 showed that 94 percent of scholarship students graduated and 89 percent of those students enrolled in college.
Additionally, D.C. is home to the largest disparity in the country between white and minority students who graduated during the 2010-2011 school year. Eighty-five percent of white students graduated, while only 55 percent of Latino and 58 percent of black students earned their diplomas.
While the D.C. OSP may not be the fix-all for every D.C. student, it is a viable option for many families looking for access to a high-quality education. The program has proven it can deliver real results. By funding the program at its full level, more D.C. families would be able to take advantage of the program, granting many more young people with access to an education that works best for their needs.
Obama announced his Fiscal Year 2014 budget this week, and unfortunately did
not provide any new scholarship funding for the highly successful D.C.
Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), despite having signed legislation in
2011 that reauthorized the program for five years.The president's budget only includes funding
for the statutorily required evaluation and program administration.
you follow AFC’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter, you have seen countless stories
posted about the success stories of this program.Since its beginning during the 2004-05 school
year, The OSP has helped thousands of children from low-income District
families receive the education they deserve.(Read about some the program’s success stories here, here, and here).
its inception, more than 11,000 families have applied to participate in the
D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and more than 6000 have been fortunate
enough to get a scholarship.
is despicable that we are not doing more to ensure each and every child has
access to the best education for their needs.Kids should not have to remain trapped in schools that do not work for
them when another viable option exists right now - and no child should be
forced to stay in a school that does not meet their needs simply because of
their family's income.
Accordingto last federal evaluation of the program in 2010, 91 percent of children who
used their D.C. opportunity scholarships graduated from high school - 21
percent more than those who sought but did not receive a scholarship and 30
percent higher than D.C. public schools.Subsequent research by the program administrator for 2010 and 2011
showed that 94 percent of scholarship students graduated and 89 percent of
those students enrolled in college.
the future of the OSP – a program that has proven its ability to deliver real
results for students trapped in schools that do not work for their needs – is in
funding exists for approximately 2,000 children, this year's program had just
under 1,600 students participating because of implementation challenges between
the Department of Education and the program administrator.The program is carrying over funds each year
that supporters believe should be used to provide more scholarships for
is most interesting is that the president has gone on the record reiterating
the need to provide low-income students with the access to a better
Duringa speech in Decatur, Georgia in February, President Obama said “the size of
your paycheck shouldn’t determine your child’s future.” We
agree full-heartedly.Each child – no matter
their family’s income or their zip code – should be entitled to the same
opportunities to succeed.So why restrict
a program that is delivering real results for some of the poorest students in
our nation’s capital?
better tomorrow starts with a quality education.We cannot continue to sit back and wait for
poor-performing schools to improve. We
must deliver all children the educational options necessary to open the door to
greater opportunities tomorrow.
No amount of rain could stop nearly 2,000 parents,
families, and education reform advocates as they packed the steps of the Ohio
Statehouse yesterday in support of expanding education choice in the Buckeye
State.Speakers at the event included, Ohio
Governor John Kasich (who announced earlier this year his plan to expand thestate’s existing private school choice program), AFC’s executive Counsel Kevin
P. Chavous, Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, House Speaker Pro Tempore
Matt Huffman, State Senator Keith Faber, parents and students. The event was sponsored by School Choice Ohio.Check out some of the photos below from the event!
Buckeye families pack the steps of the statehouse to show their support for educational options!
Today's post comes from AFC's executive counsel Kevin P. Chavous:
One of the biggest stories in the news today is the
Georgia cheating scandal. Public schools in Atlanta, Georgia have
fallen under pressure as evidence has surfaced showing that school
administrators may have altered standardized test scores to make it appear
students performed better than they actually did.
By altering the test scores, students did not win.
Only the schools and school districts “won” (that is until they got
caught). In fact, Retired district superintendent Beverly Hall was
praised by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan for her work in
turning around these poor and minority schools. She was even named 2009
National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School
to Hall’s indictment for racketeering, “Principals and teachers were
frequently told by Beverly Hall and her subordinates that excuses for not
meeting targets would not be tolerated.” To meet these “targets,” teachers
were allegedly asked to gather the students’ test sheets and change incorrect
answers. These formerly failing schools were now outperforming the
wealthier suburban schools, and the school officials were being touted
education reform heroes, showing that a school can be turned around from
“Our schools desperately need to be fixed,” wrote
The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson in a column about the scandal.
“But creating a situation in which teachers are more likely than students to
cheat cannot be the right path.” I couldn’t agree more. These
Atlanta administrators touted themselves as “education reformers” but as I have
said time after time, no school district has ever reformed itself from
within. Real education reform comes as a result of external pressures
through educational choice.
By providing families with access to educational options,
parents have a choice in their child’s education. Through options such as
tax credits, scholarships, vouchers, charter schools, and traditional schools,
families have a say in their child’s education. As I said this earlier week on PBS
NewsHour, “the only way we are going to fly this plane while we fix it,
is by helping those kids with the immediate needs, and also providing the
impetus for public schools to right-side themselves.”
Our nation’s education system needs to be about providing
the best education to all children. Every option must be on the table to
ensure each and every student in America receives a high-quality education that
will prepare them for tomorrow.
If you have been following our Facebook and Twitter pages
closely, you are aware that AFC’s Kevin P. Chavous was a featured guest on
Monday’s PBS NewsHour.Kevin, along with National Education
Association president Dennis Van Roekel, discussed the Indiana Supreme Courtdecision upholding the state’s voucher program, along with the call to provide
low- to middle-income families with educational options.
If you happened to miss it, you are in luck!Click below to watch the full interview.
Kevin’s remarks were also the focus of a piece written by D.C. charter advocate Mark Lerner today in the Examiner in support of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship
Program.Lerner said, “I love the
urgency of Mr. Chavous' remarks. We know we are tens of thousands of high
quality education seats short in the nation's capital. So as we allow
competition to fix our public education system why don't we expand the
Opportunity Scholarship Program to assist many more than the 1,600 children
currently enrolled in the plan?”
- American Federation for Children | Alliance
for School Choice, KMS