Tag archives: School Choice

National School Choice Week: Time for More Freedom, Less Red Tape

by Krystle Gabele

February 1, 2013

This week is National School Choice Week. It is a time to bring awareness and advocate for more educational options to be available for children. Too often, we hear countless stories about public schools failing students and the decline of educational standards in the classroom. It is this type of news that makes a parent cringe at the fact that their child might not be receiving quality education. Parents should have the opportunity to decide the right learning environment for their child, and they have many options available to them.

However, school choice does have its critics, and it is those who want to place bureaucracy before the well being of the student. For example, the Virginia State Senate was considering a measure recently that would allow the State Board of Education to authorize more charter schools. When the measure came to a vote, the Senate Democrats all voted to strike down the measure.

Why? Could it be that allowing school choice would punish public schools that are failing? In the Virginia bill that was killed by the State Senate, there was only opposition from key organization: the Virginia School Boards Association. This association was against the bill, because they want to keep things under local control. If you want to keep education under local control, then you should punish the schools that are failing and hold educators responsible.

School choice gives students an opportunity to achieve a quality education and helps them not to fall through the cracks. We should all be in favor of helping children reach their fullest potential.

Because You are There

by Robert Morrison

January 10, 2013

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins shared a powerful story at Chapel this morning. A team of climbers successfully ascended Mount Everest. Coming down, however, climber Lincoln Hall suffered a collapse. His teammates, thinking him dead, left him there and continued downward to their base camp. But Lincoln awoke after a day. Hallucinating, he came to the edge of the precipice.

An American team came upon him as they climbed up the mountain. Team Leader Dan Mazur and his fellow climbers took Lincoln back down with them. They missed the summit. They sacrificed their goals and some of their wealth. But they saved a life. Because they were there.

The Hebrew commentaries on Scripture, the Talmud, tell us that “he who saves a single life, it is as if he saved the world entire.” Tony’s message this morning gave us great encouragement after a year of defeat and disappointment. Can we say the cause of unborn life, the cause of marriage (the best protection for new life) have prospered? No. Can we say the flame of religious freedom burns brighter this January than it did last year? No.

But we do not despair. We do not lose hope.

I had a memorable experience working in the U.S. Education Department. Like our boss, President Reagan, I didn’t believe there should even be a federal education department. We worked hard to promote the first federal voucher bill for low income families. It failed. We tried to stop the erasure of all evidence of America’s godly heritage from basal readers. We even commissioned a study by respected NYU psychologist Paul Vitz that showed publishers were censoring all references to God from schoolchildren’s texts. We failed. We tried to “zero out” entire portions of the federal education department, to close down this agency we regarded as unconstitutional and wasteful. We failed.

In one area, however, we saw success. Sec. Bill Bennett testified before a congressional committee calling for reduced federal education spending. The chairman, a liberal, criticized Sec. Bennett for not demanding more money. Then, he launched into an appeal for Bennett to back federally subsidized child care.

He said: “Why even the Soviet Union has a national system of subsidized child care, Mr. Secretary.”

Bennett was ready: “Mr. Chairman: The reason the Soviets have that system can be found in the Ph.D. dissertation written by Raisa Gorbachev. She urged the party leadership to do this because the children on the farms were all being raised by their grandparents, who taught them superstitions.”

To the atheist wife of the Communist Party’s General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, those Russian grandparents’ superstitions were the Christian religion.

On our watch, there was no more push for federal day care. And no demand for national subsidized day care to pull little children out of homes, out of church-based pre-schools, out of those settings their loving parents choose for them.

In another area, home schooling, the Bennett years at USED were a success. He brought into the department Michael Farris, the home school leader. It was the first time this had ever happened.

I had known Michael in Washington State in the Reagan campaign. Now, Michael was presenting the case for home schooling to some very skeptical educrats. In the course of his commanding presentation, he said: “My 7-year old son can read the entire front page of the Washington Post, but my wife and I could still be prosecuted in 40 states for child abuse and neglect.”

Michael Farris provided a powerful defense of home schooling. Later out in the hall, I teased him: “Michael, do you really let your 7-year old boy read the Washington Post?”

Home schooling enjoyed some of its greatest gains in the 1980s, when President Reagan held office. And under Sec. Bennett, the federal education department did not join in the attempts to crush this burgeoning movement.

We wish we could have gotten parental choice in education for millions of low-income parents struggling to break free, but we did make a difference for millions of home schoolers. Because we were there.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

May 7, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

Save School Choice in Washington, D.C.

by Krystle Gabele

May 7, 2009

Today, I had the opportunity to attend the “Save Our D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Rally” at Freedom Plaza. Students from several Charter and private schools were in attendance chanting, “Put Kids First,” as well as parents, who were very concerned about the loss of funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships, which allow students to attend private schools, instead of lower performing public schools throughout the District.

The crowd heard from many speakers, including Former Mayor Anthony Williams, Council member Marion Barry, School Choice advocate, Virginia Walden Ford, and many others, who were concerned about the education system in Washington, D.C. While there were many parents who spoke on behalf of the scholarships, the real impact came from two young men who talked about the education that they are able to achieve at the private schools where they are attending, compared to the public schools they used to attend. Both of these young men are brilliant, and there is no doubt that they will be able to achieve whatever career path they choose to pursue. Here is the video of their speech:

Why President Obama would want to end their dreams by eliminating these scholarships is puzzling. Obama was a product of a quality private education, and he has chosen the same education for his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Why would he deny the same opportunity for students in the District?