During last November’s midterm election we noted that school choice is not a partisan issue — rather, it is increasingly an issue that is bringing Democrats and Republicans and Conservatives and Liberals together.
This point was made abundantly clear during the Franklin Center’s Amplify Choice Conference, which was held at the end of last month in Washington, D.C.
One big take away from the Amplify Choice Conference was that the school choice movement is really about more than school choice. It’s about educational choice, parental choice really – parental choice to be able to provide for the educational needs of their children. More than one speaker made that point.
One of the speakers, Virginia Walden Ford, is a founding member of the Black Alliance for Education for Educational Options, which among many other things recently helped support a public relations campaign against the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s tax credit scholarship program by producing the “Drop The Lawsuit” video. Virginia passionately made the case that all children should have the chance to obtain a quality education and that parents should be able to choose and send their children to the schools that best meet their needs.
As a result of her experience of facing deteriorating public schools for her third child, Virginia obtained a private scholarship for her son to attend the Archbishop Carroll High School. She subsequently became an outspoken school choice advocate. She calls herself a “voucher purist” and is all about making sure that parents, regardless of their race, color or economic status have the necessary information to get access for the education their children need.
Another speaker, Joe Williams, spoke from the perspective of a White-Liberal reporter observing school choice evolve in Milwaukee:
“It was all about race and the distrust Black parents had for White Milwaukeeans, especially the White public school officials.”
Joe jokes about what the name of his organization, Democrats for Education Reform, says about the Democrats’ party. He pointed out there are a lot of White Liberals like him that support school choice and believe there is a marriage to be made between school choice and accountability. The charter school movement attracts those people to work with Conservatives and other choice activists
According to Joe, the Left/Right nonpartisan coalition around school choice works because people focus on their common school choice interest and disregard the issues about which they disagree.