Being The Change | May 2012

MAY 30, 2012Greetings and welcome back to Being The Change, the monthly newsletter from the Alliance for School Choice! It’s been some time since you last heard from us, and so much has happened in the last month! We think we can sum it all up for you in three words: National Policy Summit. We told you about it in the months leading up to it, and those of you who were in attendance know that it was our best one yet! But if you weren’t able to make it, worry not—this entire edition of BTC will get you caught up on our 2012 Summit and all the amazing things that came about as a result of it. It’ll be like you were there in person! So, without further ado, let’s get to it:

True Champions in the Fight for School Choice

Since 2004, the Alliance for School Choice has honored a prominent leader in the school choice movement for groundbreaking work for America’s children with the John T. Walton Champions for School Choice Award.  Named after the late John Walton, a committed philanthropist and education leader, the 2012 award was presented at the National Policy Summit to one of the nation’s most thoughtful leaders, a courageous reformer, and true advocate for educational opportunity: Dr. Tony Bennett. (Click here to watch the presentation and Bennett’s acceptance of the Walton Award.)  Having dedicated his professional life to education, serving as a teacher, coach, assistant superintendent, Dr. Bennett worked closely with Governor Mitch Daniels and the Indiana General Assembly to enact and implement the Choice Scholarship Program—a statewide voucher program that boasts the largest first year enrollment in American history.  Dr. Bennett exemplifies the dedication to America’s children that defined John Walton’s life, too.  The Alliance recognizes Dr. Bennett, previous winners, and the late John Walton himself for working to provide educational options for children, especially those from low-income families.  Prior to honoring our Bennett in 2012, the Alliance spoke with past winners about John’s remarkable impact on the movement and their own lives. Watch the moving video tribute to John Walton below.
Choice Quotes

“I often think how as Governor, how many children sitting in classrooms today in Newark, in Jersey City, in Patterson, In Trenton, Camden, who have all the God-given gifts to someday be governor of New Jersey who never will be. And they won’t be because we didn’t have the guts and the will to stand up to a moneyed, status quo that cares more about their own interests than they care about these children.” — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, speaking on May 3 at the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit in Jersey City, N.J.

“I cannot ever stand up and stand against a parent having options because I benefited from my parents having options and when people tell me they’re against school choice, whether it’s in the Opportunity Scholarship Act or charter schools, I look at them and say as soon as you’re telling me you’re willing to send your kid to a failing school in my city or in Camden or Trenton, then I’ll be with you.”
— Newark Mayor Cory Booker, speaking on May 4 at the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit

“We have a moral obligation, an economic obligation, a national security obligation to improve education for our children.”
— Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, speaking on May 3 at the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit


“So many people said they lived the idea of school choice. They loved the idea of giving parents power. And that’s what it boils down to: parental power.”
— Juan Williams, Author and FOX News commentator, speaking on May 4 to a crowd at the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit


The Numbers Don’t Lie

We’re a fairly data-driven bunch here at BTC, so we’re always excited when we can hear from the most knowledgeable minds about the evidence showing the success of school choice across the country. And that’s exactly what we were able to do at our Summit, when we were joined by three of the leading school choice researchers to share their findings on how educational options affect educational outcomes. Here’s the lineup of researchers who presented findings (and be sure to click the links to view their full presentations):

  • Dr. Paul Peterson, Harvard University, on the historical trends in school choice research and the growing support for school choice in recent years
  • Dr. Patrick Wolf, University of Arkansas, on recent findings showing positive effects of school choice on academic achievement and attainment in Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and Florida
  • Dr. John Witte, University of Wisconsin, on how a host of school choice measures—including public charter schools and open enrollment—have made significant positive gains for students nationwide

Check back soon to see full video of each of the researchers presenting their findings. But, needless to say, the evidence is strong in support of a simple and important reality: school choice works!

A Shout Out to Great Teachers Across America

Everyone here at BTC can look back on an important teacher, mentor, or educator who has had a valuable influence on their lives, and we imagine it’s the same for all of you! That’s why we were overjoyed to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week earlier this month, an admittedly all-to-short highlighting of the importance of teachers in shaping the lives of our young people. At the core of the school choice movement are  the positive outcomes created when parents are empowered with the choice to send their children to the school that best fits their needs. Those improvements—whether in academic achievement, graduation rates, parental satisfaction, or overall safety—would not be possible if not for the amazing contributions of dedicated and committed teachers. And it’s important to remember that teachers come in all shapes and stripes, and not just the ones in the classroom.  Hearing folks speak about the contributions to education reform made by John Walton, for instance, make clear that he was, in addition to an amazingly generous education benefactor, a remarkably effective teacher, too. That’s why whether it’s in the classroom, in the education reform movement, or elsewhere out in the world, we say to the millions of teachers out there who put the well-being of kids first: thank you for all you do! You are the change that’s helping to create opportunities for children everywhere!

Had Enough Summit? Neither Have We!

We’re so energized from the 2012 National Policy Summit, we’ve already started on preparations for next year! You can take a look at our 2012 Summit website for a recap of all the amazing speakers, presentations, and resources, but in the coming weeks, that will become the prime destination for our 2013 Summit, too! Right now, we can tell you this: the 2013 National Policy Summit will take place on Monday, May 13 and Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel in Washington, D.C. Over the coming months, you’ll hear more and more details about next year’s event, but be sure to save the date today! And if you attended our Summit in Jersey City this year, be sure to let us know what you thought!

Student Spotlight for May: Valerie Denton Moore

Perhaps the most moving part of the Summit came when the audience heard from Valerie Denton Moore, a former voucher student from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. She’s now a sophomore at Emory University, majoring in English and Journalism. But nobody here atBTC could do as good a job telling her story as she could—and that’s why we’ll let you hear from her about her amazing journey from Milwaukee to college success, something that happened as a result of school choice.

Take a look at the video below to hear from Valerie herself:

We congratulate Valerie and the thousands of other student beneficiaries of school choice who are thriving as a result of the options they were given! YOU are the reason we do the work we do!

Thanks for reading another edition of Being The Change, the monthly newsletter from the Alliance for School Choice. Remember to visit throughout the month for updates and announcements, and remember to to watch all of the amazing videos and speeches from our 2012 National Policy Summit. We’ll see you in D.C. for next year’s Summit, and we’ll see you at the end of June for the next edition of BTC! Have a great month!