Unlike most people in the discussion on school choice, I am not a teacher, administrator or legislator. I am a parent, who like most other parents just want quality education options for my children.
A few years ago, The Institute for Quality Education asked parents to come and talk about how school choice has made a difference for them. I thought to myself that people complain when things aren't going well, but no one says anything when things are good. I decided to take time and talk about what was good. Being that we are what I like to refer to as a choice family (because none of my children have attended traditional public schools), I thought I would tell my story.
It was the first time I spoke about my journey to provide a quality education for my children. It was the first time anyone had actually asked me, “How has school choice helped your family?” It was not until my meeting with The Institute for Quality Education that I really began to understand how important my voice as a parent is in the conversation about education.
I write to be a voice for parents who because of circumstance are not able to live in zip codes where quality education is a way of life. I’m the voice for parents who have been told their children cannot learn by way of our urban school districts that repeatedly fail our children year after year.
Parents like myself make sacrifices to get our children to and from school because transportation is not available at most charter and private voucher schools. I write for those parents who can't exercise choice because they can’t overcome the cost of private school despite the voucher and cannot provide transportation.
Last but not least, I write for my children. My children who were able to attend a charter school where they believed poor and minority children could learn. My children who were able to bypass an F rated public school that was being taken over by the state and were able to attend one the top college prep schools in the state of Indiana because of school choice.
Parent voices are one of the most important voices in the education conversation. I hope my involvement in the education conversation gives a voice to parents who have stood on the sidelines and watched while everyone made decisions about their children's education without involving them.
Why I Write: Sylvia Denice