Being The Change | April 2012

APRIL 3, 2012Greetings and welcome back to Being The Change, the monthly newsletter from the Alliance for School Choice! We’ve got a lot of great stuff for you this month, including a brand-new publication highlighting some of the best work in the school choice movement, positive developments benefiting families in Louisiana, and some info on events both past and future. But now, in the present, there’s only one thing you should do: read our newsletter!

The Promise of Special Needs Scholarships

Across America, school choice programs for students with special needs are changing the lives of nearly 30,000 families (see our Yearbook for even more stats). With 10 programs across eight states, special needs scholarships allow parents to choose the school that best meets the educational needs of their child. From vouchers to scholarship tax credits to education savings account programs, children with special needs have access to the customized education that will allow them to reach their full potential. But our words only tell part of the story. The greatest testimony about the promise of special needs scholarships comes from the stories of the families themselves. Read eight of those amazing stories from families who have had their lives transformed thanks to school choice. It’s all in our newly-released publication,The Promise of Special Needs Scholarships, which tells the stories of eight amazing students who are receiving an education that will truly change their lives! Click here to download The Promise today!
Choice Quotes

“Mr. President, we believe the D.C. [Opportunity Scholarship Program] is a critically important part of K-12 education in the District of Columbia. Participating families have an average income of less than $24,000 per year and more than 92 percent of participating students would otherwise be in a school in need of improvement. You have articulately highlighted our nation’s severe dropout crisis, and the Opportunity Scholarship Program right here in Washington, D.C. is a shining example of one tool to help address the crisis.”
— House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), writing in a March 22 letter to President Obama calling for effective implementation of the D.C. voucher program.

“I took a real look at what was truly happening in my district – in my community and immediately I saw an ‘Alarm at the Gate.’ My people didn’t have high-quality schools nor did they have high-quality options to choose from. It really didn’t take me long to come to this conclusion: this is the civil rights issue of today and that our children needed access to quality schools—if not, our future is in serious jeopardy.”
— Rep. Jabar Shumate (D-Oklahoma), in a March 2012 interview for the American Federation for Children’s Voices of Reform newsletter, explaining why he supports school choice.

“Supporters of the status quo will find all kinds of excuses for why one public school or another is unable to achieve excellence. Haven’t we heard enough excuses?”
— Keith Magill, executive editor of Louisiana’s Houma Today and The Daily Cometwriting on March 19 about his support for a proposed statewide expansion of the New Orleans voucher program.

“Come One, Come All!”

That’s what our Louisiana allies were shouting last month as they teamed up to spread the word for the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE) program enrollment period. The Louisiana Federation for Children (LFC), a project of our affiliated organization, theAmerican Federation for Children, joined the Black Alliance for Educational Options in tirelessly spreading the word about the highly-successful voucher program. Their work ensured that lines were filled with eligible parents to participate in the program, which has since 2008 provided an educational lifeline to children trapped in failing public schools in New Orleans. Registration for the program ran from March 9 – March 13, and thousands of parents attended the event to enroll or re-enroll their children in the program. Be sure to check out the video below, which captures some highlights from the successful event. Meanwhile, the Louisiana House of Representatives late last month passed a bill that would expand the program statewide. The bill is now headed to the State Senate. Learn more by visitingwww.Louisiana4Children.org.

Turning to a New Paige in Education Reform

Leaders from all across Arizona came together earlier this month for an in-depth discussion focused on the theme of “closing the achievement gap through access to high quality education for all.” It’s been a theme adopted by many education reform advocates in the Grand Canyon State, but this time, they welcomed a special guest—former Secretary of Education Dr. Rod Paige! The former secretary participated in several bipartisan discussions with mayors, legislators, and business leaders during his time in Phoenix. Among the events was a breakfast with community leaders hosted by Greg Stanton, the Democratic mayor of Phoenix, as well as a roundtable discussion led by Paige and Stanton, the latter of whom pledged strong and newfound support for Arizona’s existing publicly funded private school choice programs. The State’s House and Senate Education Committee Chairs also hosted a legislative luncheon where Republicans and Democrats joined together, proving that the national conversation about divisive legislators doesn’t apply to all issues. More and more, we’re seeing legislators come together when it comes to kids. We’re proud of the progress being made in Arizona!

The Annual AFC Policy Summit is Right Around the Corner!

It’s almost time! For what, you ask? It’s almost time for the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice’s third annual National Policy Summit! Borrowing from the theme that defined 2011 and caused many to dub last year as “The Year of School Choice,” our third annual Summit, titled “Breakthrough Victories for Children,” will take place on Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4 in Jersey City, New Jersey. If you thought last year’s program was packed, just wait until you see what’s in store this year! In the aftermath of the creation of seven new programs last year, we’re now hard at work with our allies raising awareness among eligible parents. What’s the outlook for the rest of 2012? This is just a sampling of the many discussions that will take place at our two-day summit this year. Register, and learn much more, by clicking here!

Student Spotlight for March: Mani Love

The inspiring story of Mani Love, who is enrolled in Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, began last New Year’s Eve with a horrific accident. Fewer than three months later, Mani and his mother, Cherish, are working together to make sure that their tragedy can ultimately help more children in the future. Click below to watch the amazing story.
It’s truly an inspiring story. We keep fighting for educational options because of kids like Mani, and we hope that you will, too.

Thanks for reading this month’s Being The Change. Have a wonderful April, and we’ll see you again in a month’s time! And be sure to download our Yearbook!