For Me, The 2016 Election is About Voting for Children

by Cheryl Kirk

We are a short time away from not only our presidential election but local elections that include our school board and other elected leaders who will have a tremendous impact on the future of Indianapolis’ children.

As the mother of three African American children, two of whom are boys, quality education (or the lack thereof) is front and center on my mind when I walk into my polling place to cast my vote. I have personally exercised school choice through both  public and private school education over the years. And with my two oldest children headed toward their high school graduation day, I am reminded of how grateful I am that the state of Indiana gave me, their mother, the tools I needed to help them be successful.

With Election Day almost upon us, I am closely watching and listening for the candidates’’ positions on K-12 education. I also have a fourth grader and I need to know that he will have access to the same quality education that Indiana empowered me to provide for my two oldest children. There is a lot of debate about school choice hurting the public school system -- some powerful folks even want to scale back on school choice and are asking parents to wait til the traditional public school improves. and stopping or decreasing school choice in order to rebuild the quality of public school education in Indiana.

We have been waiting too long.

Before we cast our votes on Tuesday, I hope parents and voters will remember that the need for school choice options came about because of the consistent and chronic failure of our urban and mostly minority public schools. Taking away options for parents will, without a doubt, change the outcome of so many children's lives in Indiana. Just as we have passed a budget to increase police on the streets, we need to continue to strengthen quality education for the children who need it most.

There is no question that Indianapolis Public Schools have begun to take a step back and reevaluate their strategy around educating the children that they serve. But based on my experience, parental choice is sacred. We must be empowered to determine which school is the right fit for our children.And the polling is clear that a majority of black parents, like me, agree that we must protect the power and freedom that school choice provides. 

When I vote on Tuesday, it will be simple for me. I will cast my ballot for those who will protect the opportunity for my children and other people’s children to have access to the quality education that they deserve.

And I will not support anyone who will sit idly by and allow Indiana children to be trapped in low performing schools based solely on their zip code.