Being The Change | August 2012


AUGUST 30, 2012Welcome to Being The Change, the monthly newsletter from the Alliance for School Choice! Summer is a time for relaxing, kicking back, and taking it easy, right? Wrong! Here at the Alliance, we have been hard at work on the implementation of private school choice programs around the country, making sure parents know about the options available to them, and helping families with the resources they need for the upcoming school year. But don’t just take our word for it…read the descriptions, see the photos, and watch the videos below to see just what we’ve been up to!

School Supplies and Scholarships in Our Nation’s Capital

Going back to school means new teachers, new schools, and new peers, but for students participating in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) in the nation’s capital, it also means new school supplies! That’s right—kids in the program won’t only be showing up to the first day of school prepared for a year of learning, but also in style! Earlier this month, hundreds of OSP families attended a School Welcome and Placement Fair to visit with some of the private schools participating in the program. After visiting with the schools, students received school supplies donated by the Alliance. We were excited to see hundreds of students with their blue bags filled with notebooks, folders, colored pencils, rulers, and everything else that D.C. voucher students need to get a head start on the year! Click the image from the event below to read more!

Choice Quotes

“We want to have our students college-ready, and to learn that for African-American students, this is a way of improving their chances of being college-ready…is a really important finding.”
— Renowned education researcher Paul E. Peterson, a Harvard professor and director of the university’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, speaking on August 23 about a recently-published study that showed increased college enrollment for voucher recipients.

“We see desperate people every day trying to figure out what to do with their kids, how to get their kids educated. It’s no slam on public schools. I don’t mean it that way. They got their hands full, and the future doesn’t look too bright and parents are desperate. This law is a godsend for anybody in the circumstances we’ve witnessed.”
— Kirk Hallett, the director of the Joshua Group, an at-risk youth mentoring organization, speaking on August 23 about the importanceof the newly-created scholarship tax credit program in Pennsylvania.

“It’s working in Milwaukee. It’s working in Indiana and other places in the United States. It’s always worked in the majority of the industrialized nations of the world. Why not here? Why not recognize that education always works better when children attend schools where they want to be and their parents get to choose?”
— Dave Larsen, director of the Bright Promise Fund for Urban Christian Education in Chicago, writing on August 14 about why school choice should be expanded.

Putting Words Into Action!

Following one of the most successful application periods ever, more than 5,600 students received scholarships to attend schools as part of Louisiana’s statewide voucher program. That’s the largest single-year expansion of a voucher program ever, and we here at BTCcouldn’t be more thrilled about the new options available to parents! It’s all thanks to the new and improved Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program, which was approved by a bipartisan coalition of Louisiana legislators in April. The program allows low-to-middle income families with students trapped in failing schools to take their tax dollars and attend the school of their choice. There is still more work to be done, though, with hundreds of parents also looking to enroll their kids in newly-created charter schools across the state. The Alliance has been hard at work over the past few months making parents aware of their options to apply, and we’ve also helped many of the nearly 120 schools are participating in the voucher program make sure they were ready for their newly-enrolled students. Plus, we’re already working with our coalition partners down in the Bayou State to allow even more parents to enroll in the program next year. State education leaders are also implementing the strong accountability plan passed last month. And it’s not just Louisiana where the implementation process has been under way! Click on the video below to learn more about how students are taking advantage of new scholarship opportunities in Pennsylvania, too!

The Best Offense Is a Good Defense

When opponents of parental choice saw the amazing support for Louisiana’s Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program in the months following its passage in April, with 10,300 applications to the program in the spring, they weren’t happy. Still, we at BTCcan’t say we were expecting what happened next.  A lawyer on behalf of the Louisiana Association of Educators blasted private schools participating in the voucher system with a letter threatening to sue if they did not halt participation in the program.  To protect these schools fighting to give children in Louisiana a brighter future, the Alliance for School Choice and the Institute for Justice set up the Louisiana Defense Fund, pledging to stand up for schools in the event that the LAE followed through on its threats.  We’re happy to say that as of now, not a single school has backed out of the program, which has given more than 5,600 students an opportunity to escape low-performing schools in the state.  Even in the face of these bullying tactics, school choice supporters in Louisiana will not back down from fighting for the children of Louisiana! Click below to learn more about the Alliance’s Louisiana Defense Fund!

Student Spotlight: Jaevion Mabrey

It’s no surprise that when it comes to some of the most moving school choice successes—amazing stories of children overcoming odds in order to succeed—there is a committed parent working hard to give their child the best opportunities possible. That’s exactly what’s happening with Jaevion Mabrey, an elementary school student in Indiana who is a recipient of a voucher through the statewide Choice Scholarship Program. Although his life has already changed as a result of receiving a scholarship through the statewide voucher program, his best has yet to come, and that’s in part because of the amazing commitment of his mother, Jeronna. And who better to tell that story, than Jeronna herself? Take a look at the video below to hear just a portion of how choice has been so valuable to her circumstances. To learn more about Jeronna and other families who are benefiting from school choice in Indiana, visit our friends at School Choice Indiana at More than 8,000 students are enrolled in the voucher program this year, meaning many more opportunities for many more inspiring stories like Jaevion’s!

It’s Time to Go Back to School!

It’s that time of year again, when kids all across the country say goodbye to summer and head back to school!  And thanks to the momentous victories of 2011 and 2012, more children than ever before will be attend the school of their parents’ choice thanks to publicly-funded private school choice programs.  In fact, nearly 30 percent of American children exercise some form of school choice, whether it’s public school choice, attending public charter schools, or using a voucher or a scholarship from a tax credit program to attend a private school.  To celebrate the back to school season, the Alliance will be running a back-to-school campaign celebrating both the growth of these programs—and most importantly—the students whose lives have changed as a result of private school choice programs across the country.  Make sure you check out beginning on September 4 to see the campaign!

Thanks for reading this edition of Being The Change, and stay tuned beginning next to week for our special Back to School campaign, as well as throughout the month for all the latest updates on all things related to school choice!