Being The Change | March 2012

MARCH 1, 2012Welcome to the newest edition of Being the Change, the monthly newsletter of the Alliance for School Choice! We’ve leapt past leap day right into March and are now counting down the days until spring. But before the flowers and showers come, we thought we’d take some time to give you an early update on school choice applications for the 2012-13 school year all across the country, all the way from Wisconsin and to our nation’s capital! But, that’s not all; we’re also tracking where our own Kevin P. Chavous has been spreading the word about parental choice (hint: all over the country) and bringing you a special video from one of our 2012 Summit speakers Juan Williams. Keep reading to check it all out.

Lions, Tigers, and School Choice, Oh My!

That’s right, at the Milwaukee County Zoo this month, school choice groups welcomed families from across the city for an application sign-up event for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. The open house was part of the “I Choose” Campaign from School Choice Wisconsin and the Alliance, aiming to ensure that eligible families know about their educational options. Click the image below to visit the I Choose Wisconsin site to learn more.

And Milwaukee isn’t the only city in Wisconsin that’s enrolling students for the 2012-13 school year. The Racine Parental Choice Program, currently in its first year with 228 students, has met its enrollment cap of 500 students for next year. To the East, families are also applying in our nation’s capital, which has seen two application events for the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. Held at community centers across the city, these events have helped more than 700 families apply for new scholarships. We’re looking forward to seeing how much the program will grow this year, the first full sign-up period since last year’s Congressional reauthorization. Application events will continue to happen all across the nation as families get to choose the school they feel is best for their children. And maybe we’ll get to see some zoo animals along the way!

Choice Quotes

“I hold no allegiance to a school delivery model. I really don’t care if you’re a charter school, a magnet school, a traditional district school. The question is: Are you providing quality education?”
— Newark Mayor Cory Booker, speaking with the Asbury Park Press on February 28about education reform and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s push for school choice.

“School choice is not just a set of policies. It is a moral imperative. Perhaps Bill Cosby, a supporter of National School Choice Week, put it best. He said, ‘We have a moral and societal obligation to give our children the opportunity to succeed in school, at work, and in life.’”
— Michelle D. Bernard, president and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy, writing on January 31 in The Hill.

“Let’s put the people whose responsibility it is — the moral responsibility — to raise children in control of their children’s education — and that’s parents.”
— Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, speaking on February 7 at a school choice rally at the State Capitol. The rally was organized by state allies and was being held in support of legislation calling for the creation of a scholarship tax credit program in the state.



Where in the World is Kevin P. Chavous?

Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the Alliance and former D.C. councilman, has spent February traveling all around the country in support of parental choice. And while it’s a short month, he somehow made it to Indianapolis, Richmond, and New York City (just to name a few) to rally and offer support for putting all options on the table to help kids. Rallying in the Old Dominion State, Chavous joined Governor McDonnell, state legislators, and families in support of more educational options in Virginia. “We cannot allow students to be denied educational opportunity just because of their zip code,” Chavous said. “Across the nation, educational alternatives are transforming the lives of children in need, and it’s time we give that choice to kids in Richmond, Roanoke, and rural towns across the state.” It sounds like elected officials are listening, because only a few weeks later both the House of Delegates and the Senate passed legislation for a scholarship tax credit program! Later, on February 15, Chavous demonstrated his hosting skills by serving as the master of ceremonies at an Indiana rally that drew more than 2,000 supporters. Governor Mitch Daniels and several state legislators attended the Ed Reform Rocks Rally to honor folks like Representative Robert Behning and Senator Scott Schneider for their efforts to expand school choice across the Hoosier state. And, the very next day, Kevin joined Eva Moskowitz, who runs Success Academy Charter Schools and is a former New York City Council Member, and parents to talk about educational options. Check back in next month to see what Kevin’s going to do with all those frequent flyer miles!

A Tale of Two Missions: Juan Williams and the National Policy Summit

We told you before that Juan Williams—one of the nation’s leading journalists, commentators, and political analysts—will deliver an address on school choice at the American Federation for Children/Alliance for School Choice third annual National Policy Summit in May, but Williams is already touting the importance of parental options before he even arrives in New Jersey on May 3-4! In conjunction with the Education Action Group Foundation, Williams created a short movie, entitled “A Tale of Two Missions,” on parental choice in Chicago. It focused on two important topics: what elected officials are doing to improve Chicago’s schools and what others are doing to prevent meaningful reform.

In what is something of a preview for what you’ll hear at our Summit, Williams stresses the importance of school vouchers, charter schools, and empowering parents. To hear what Williams has to say at our Summit, register for the event, to be held at the Westin Jersey City Newport Hotel in Jersey City on Thursday, May 3, and Friday, May 4, 2012.

Student Spotlight for February: Simon Lewis

When her family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Alicia Lewis brought documentation of a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and bipolar disorder, a psychologist evaluation, and an IEP that her son, Simon had at the public school he previous attended in another state. But Louisiana would not accept out-of-state documentation, instead wanting Simon to attend public school without an IEP and go through another year of testing. Simon struggled at the public school, and he shut down socially and had trouble with his schoolwork. But this fall, Simon started the seventh grade at Greater Baton Rouge Academy, a private school that focuses on children with special needs. And thanks to his special needs scholarship, he’s thriving. “[The scholarship] allows Simon to be in a school I know he needs to be in,” Alicia said. “It is really the only option for us as a family and for Simon’s well-being.” After just two weeks of attending his new school, Simon became engaged with what was going on and was able to tolerate being in a school environment. Simon is no longer over-stimulated and is much calmer. “All the students understand they are special,” his mother said. “They accept each other and that is a huge difference.” Programs like Louisiana’s special needs voucher program allow children like Simon to access an education that can transform their lives. And that is what school choice is all about.

As always, thank you for reading Being the Change! Be sure to download our Yearbook if you haven’t already. See you in the spring!