April 14, 2011 – Welcome to the inaugural edition of Being The Change, the brand-new monthly newsletter of the Alliance for School Choice!We’ve created this newsletter to serve as a resource for all those fighting for equal opportunity in education. We especially want to keep families, allies, and supporters across the country informed of what’s happening in the states, the best tools and options for parents and children, and showcase the opportunities that exist for folks to get involved in expanding educational opportunities to all children. We’ll also have a few fun features here every month that we hope will capture the underlying progress of various school choice initiatives throughout across the nation. And, of course, we’ll tell you what the Alliance has been to advance the school choice movement in conjunction with our various state partners. It’s a busy time for our movement, so let’s dive in!
It’s April, so Stop What You’re Doing And…
…download the School Choice Yearbook 2010-11,! The Alliance publishes the award-winning School Choice Yearbook each year, and we believe that this year we’ve produced the most comprehensive edition yet. In the School Choice Yearbook 2010-11: Hope for America’s Children, we examine any and everything related to the 20 school choice programs around the country. School choice in America is giving nearly 200,000 kids a shot at a better future, and we’ve laid out all the particulars of how, why, and where. Follow the fast pace at which school choice programs have expanded over the last decade, read about the myriad of opportunities for further growth, and find out just how school choice can change lives by hearing from some of the families that have benefitted from the programs across the country. Whether you’re an expert on school choice or just beginning to learn about how it can change lives, the School Choice Yearbook is the best resource available—anywhere. So if you do just one thing this month, be sure to download the School Choice Yearbook 2010-11. You can do so at www.allianceforschoolchoice.org, or by clicking here.
Each month, we’ll scour the news and find you a few “choice quotes” from elected officials, teachers, students, or other reformers. In March, tense policy debates had elected officials at different levels of government speaking out:
“Parents overwhelmingly approve of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. They are more engaged, they are more involved, they feel vested. They want the chance to send their children to the school of their choice like the president does, like the Secretary of Education does, and like many of us do.” – U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), at a March 10 hearing on reauthorization of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program
“No reasonably informed person can honestly state that our desire to transform public education is an effort to destroy it. In fact, our hope is just the opposite – to make outstanding education options, whether public or private, available to every Hoosier family.” –Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R), speaking on March 30 to Reuters
“School choice is not an alternative to public education. It is a vital part of an innovating and productive public education system.” – Pennsylvania State Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D), writing on March 6 in The Patriot-News
Reaching the Summit: May 9-10, 2011
Almost a year ago, the Alliance teamed up with our sister organization, the American Federation for Children, to engage in one of the country’s widest and most sweeping conversations about school choice. Things went so well last year, we thought: Why not do it again? Join us at our National Policy Summit 2011, the second invitation-only insider school choice briefing hosted by the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children. What progress has been made and where are we headed in the coming year? School Choice Now: Empowering America’s Children connects donors, policymakers, and opinion leaders to discuss the best way forward in providing educational opportunities to the children who need them most. This year’s summit is being held Monday, May 9 and Tuesday, May10, 2011 in Washington, D.C. Click here to register today! Space is filling up fast, and trust us – you don’t want to miss out!
Rallies for Reform
Parents in Ohio and Pennsylvania are making sure that their voices are heard! First up were supporters in Ohio, who rallied to coincide with the enrollment period for Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship program during the first half of April. The program, which grants scholarships to students in low-performing schools to attend schools of their parent’s choosing, has a cap of just 14,000 students across the state. And just this week in Pennsylvania, supporters from all walks of life took to the capital in Harrisburg in support of Senate Bill 1, the proposed school choice plan in the Keystone State. The Alliance and our key allies in both states, including School Choice Ohio, and Students First and the REACH Foundation in Pennsylvania, are working hard to make sure that we maximize the number of parents who can give their child a better education. Spread the word, and watch video of the rally from Ohio below!
No Parties, Just Parents
Mardi Gras is over in the Big Easy, and the timing is right for the Alliance and our Louisiana allies, because it’s all work from here on out! Down on the ground in the Bayou State, folks have been mobilizing a grassroots effort to keep families informed of their educational options—specifically, the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE), which has truly made a difference in the lives of low-income families. Registration for the highly-successful voucher program ran from March 15 to March 19, and thousands of parents enrolled or re-enrolled their kids for SSEE. Our partners at the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) led the charge to keep parents aware of their options (see video below), also calling on legislators to remove the problematic “failing schools” criteria for eligibility and expand the program beyond Orleans Parish. Also be sure to check out the new website for the Louisiana Federation for Children, a production of the Alliance and our sister organization, the American Federation for Children. Between the Louisiana Federation and the hard work of the folks at Louisiana-BAEO, we’re working to make sure that all Louisiana children have a shot at the future they deserve!
Student Spotlight for April: Lesly Alvarez
An eighth grade student at Sacred Heart School in Washington, D.C., Lesly Alvarez is a fortunate recipient of a scholarship through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). A native Spanish speaker, Lesly was able to learn English thanks to the OSP, which allowed her to attend the only bilingual Catholic school in the entire District of Columbia. There, she has excelled in language arts and reading, and the OSP has even helped her map out a career path. “Thanks to my parents and this program, I know I will graduate,” Alvarez said. “I will get a job, I will be a lawyer—or a chef.” Lesly is one of more than 3,300 students who has benefitted from the program since its creation in 2004, and now Congress is working to reauthorize the program and restore school choice to the nation’s capital. “The Opportunity Scholarship Program has been a miracle for me and hundreds of other students like me,” Alvarez said. “With my scholarship, I know I will go far.”
Extreme Web Makeover
Those of you who’ve been following the Alliance for a while have become very familiar with our website, but in the coming weeks, we’re going to be getting a bit of a makeover. Keep your eyes peeled to our URL, because we’re hard at work on transforming our already resourceful site into a simpler, more accessible place to learn about what’s going on with school choice nationally. Keep your eyes peeled, and we think you’ll like what you see when it’s all done…
Thank you for reading our inaugural issue, and be sure to check back next month for Being The Change!