The 2015 National School Choice Week is underway, and there are so many exciting events taking place all over America. Our kickoff event on January 25 here in Little Rock, Arkansas, generated wonderful discussions with parents, educators, and supporters on the state of education in Arkansas and around the country. This week has brought to my mind the many changes that I’ve been privileged to witness over the past 20 years.
Beginning in the late 1990s, we saw programs like the Milwaukee School Choice Program and the Cleveland Scholarship Program provide opportunities for children. In 2004, we all watched as the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP) began serving the children of the District. The children who were the first beneficiaries of the DCOSP were often the ones who had been “forgotten” in D.C.’s educational environment.
I’ve been thrilled to see so many of those children succeed and go on to college. Last week, I checked in with one of the parents who courageously fought for this option for her children. Pam Battle shared with me that her son Carlos, who was in the first group of children to benefit from the DCOSP, will graduate from Northeastern University this spring. Her younger son, Calvin, is a student at St. Augustine College. I remember meeting both boys when they anxiously signed up for a D.C. Opportunity Scholarship, and I am delighted to see them succeeding all these years later.
As we move forward, I continue to be excited about all the opportunities our children have to receive a quality education by having access to all educational options. We still have a long way to go, but with more and more school choice programs available around the nation, I feel hopeful that our children will ultimately be the winners.
As National School Choice Week celebrates education around the nation, it reminds me of the thousands of children who are a part of my heart, who have thrived with the onset of many educational options around our great nation. I will continue to stand with all those who support educational excellence.
Happy National School Choice Week!