What would you do if your child was trapped in a failing school, and you weren't able to send him or her to a private school?
That's the situation Virginia Walden Ford faced when she couldn't financially afford to remove her son from a dangerous and poorly performing school in the heart of our nation's capital. But just when she was about to give up hope, a donated scholarship rescued her son, who thrived in private school, and eventually became a U.S. Marine. Now Ford has dedicated her life to making sure other parents and children have the same choice — today, she serves as the executive director for the D.C. Parents for School Choice.
What you should know about school choice
- The idea behind "school choice" is that taxpayer money should follow children and benefit them, rather than a government bureaucracy. In short, it puts the monetary power back in the hands of the parents and students — where it belongs — making schools accountable to them, rather than to bureaucrats or politicians.
- According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, "25 percent of our students — and almost 40 percent of our black and Hispanic students — fail to graduate high school on time."
- Yet, taxpayers now invest more than $500 billion annually into K-12 public schools. Public-school spending has more than doubled since 1970, while achievement scores have stagnated over the last few decades.
- But there is strong evidence that school choice works! Government-mandated evaluations of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) — a federally funded school choice program — found that students who used the scholarships had significant gains in reading achievement and graduation rates 21 points higher than their public-school peers.
- Likewise, the University of Minnesota also released a study showing that the graduation rate for Milwaukee school-choice recipients was 18 percent higher than their peers in public schools.