School Choice is Our Modern Day Emancipation Proclamation


On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the freeing of slaves in the Confederate states. Although this action didn't free all slaves, it was the beginning of change not only in Confederate states but the nation.

For decades the poor and minority children in Indiana were trapped in failing schools. In 2001, Indiana lawmakers signed its first charter school law.  This action freed a small amount of Indiana families, many of them poor and minority, from failing schools.

The push for access to quality education continued, and in 2011 Indiana lawmakers passed HEA 1003, the most expansive school voucher program in the nation. It allowed low-income families the ability to choose the best education options regardless of the zip code they lived in. Then in 2013, the program was expanded with additional pathways for students to receive vouchers.

Like the Emancipation Proclamation, the passing of the charter school and voucher laws in Indiana has started to provide access to quality education options to poor and minority families who were trapped in failing schools. Indianapolis Public Schools, our largest school district serving the vast majority of poor and minority students, has begun to reinvent itself to provide quality education to the community it serves.

Several states including our neighbors in Illinois have followed Indiana’s lead and are pushing to provide quality education options to all families no matter their zip code.

Quality education comes in all different forms from public, private, to homeschool. Having the option to choose has made all the difference for our family. I hope that Indiana lawmakers continue to be the champions for the children of Indiana and lead the nation in allowing parents to choose the best education choices for their children.



Cheryl Kirk

Mrs. Kirk is a married mother of three children, 16-year-old twins and a 9 year-old son, who all currently attend private school on a voucher. She is a Gary, Indiana native but has lived in Indianapolis for many years. While trying to provide a quality education for her children she met many obstacles and became determined to access the best education for her children. Cheryl is a licensed practical nurse and has worked in home care, hospice, long-term care, and is currently the clinical director for an assisted living facility.