Selected readings on US charter schools
Today, across Indiana, the classroom door opens to more than 20,000 children to attend a school of their parents’ choice. This open door represents more than access to a new school: It is a symbol of hope, the vehicle to opportunity and it is the real life existence to the dream described by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. more than 50 years ago.
That’s why Indiana’s educational choice program has received so much attention. In one year the program more than doubled, and like the children enrolled in the program the trajectory for growth is exponential.
Disappointingly, the program remains shrouded in partisanship. Despite the program being tailored to children trapped in inner cities from low-income families, who are often represented by Democrats, not a single Democrat has stepped forward to support the program.
Members of the Indiana General Assembly need to recognize that their failure to serve the needs of their constituents is politics at its worst. Not only is educational choice a nonpartisan issue, it transcends the political boundaries and more and more states are enacting programs with bipartisan support.
This year, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania all enacted or expanded educational choice programs with bipartisan support. New Jersey’s Opportunity Scholarship Act received strong support from both chambers.
Perhaps what is most telling about the future of bipartisan support for educational support, Newark Mayor Cory Booker was overwhelmingly elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election, despite being viciously attacked by teacher unions and his primary opponents due to his support for educational choice. Booker is a former board member for the Alliance for School Choice and perhaps best summed his support when he spoke the American Federation for Children Summit in 2013, saying, “I cannot ever stand up and stand against a parent having options, because I have benefited from my parents having an option.”
And, that’s why educational choice — the empowerment of parents whose children are trapped in failing schools has emerged as today’s civil rights issue.
It is an undeniable fact that minority communities are plagued by underfunded and failing schools, and that these schools serve children who come from low-income families, and these families lack the means to afford better educational options. Aas a result our children are being held back, held down and denied opportunity.
If you truly support providing children the best educational options, if you truly support a stronger public education system, then the Indiana’ school choice program deserves your support, regardless of political party. Democrats and Republicans should enthusiastically embrace Indiana’s school choice program, and join the 20,000 Hoosiers who already have signed up.
Source: Indystar.com – by Joe Slash (President and CEO, Indianapolis Urban League) and Kevin P. Chavous (Executive counsel to the American Federation for Children, Chair of Democrats for Education Reform)