It is amazing to live in a city where we are still at odds when it comes to providing access to options to students and families. In a city and state that continues to stress the importance of seeing children grow and develop, I have to wonder how serious we are about ensuring that this actually happens.
The bill we’ve all come to know as the ‘Voucher Bill’ has made its way through both the House and Senate Committees. Senator Brian Kelsey (R)-Germantown, the bill’s sponsor, proudly stood up to present the bill that will allow for children in low-performing schools to receive a voucher to attend a private school that has chosen to opt in to the program.
However, this go-round there are some discussions being had around the newly amended bill that is presented as a pilot program for students only in Shelby County. Yes, the discussion around vouchers has been an ongoing one for quite some time. I have heard the many arguments on all sides. As a community leader, advocate, organizer, clergy woman, educator and supporter of all forms of “choice,” I totally get the arguments, the opposition and the reservation. But as a parent of a 4thgrader who now attends a private school, I can’t do anything but stand in support of my child and all others.
My first priority and responsibility lives with the rearing and guidance of a 10-year old. And I as her mom, have the charge to ensure she is placed on a path of success. With that, I intentionally do my part to seek out learning environments that best fit the needs of my individual child. When I decided to seek out private schooling for Madison, though I knew it would come at a cost, I was willing make whatever sacrifice necessary to make it work.
The reality is not all parents a) know how to access additional educational options for their children and/or b) are aware of what the additional options are and/or c) do not have the resources to support such a vision of at the very least exploring other options for their children.
My choice to send my child to private school was not an indictment of any particular school or school district. My choice to send my child to a private school was predicated on her individual learning needs.
I support Senate Bill 161 because I believe parents should have the right to choose and be supported financially in those efforts. I too made a financial sacrifice and now, my child is thriving. But I'm burdened by how many other children could also be thriving if they're learning environments were simply altered. This truth doesn't make their current school a bad school or their district a bad district, but it says to parents you have the right, responsibility and resources to do what's best for your child and their academic success. I think it's time to empower our parents and our community to ensure that all possible options are made available to ensure all students, including mine, and children have at least the access to an option that under other circumstances they wouldn't be able to afford.
Yes I'm excited about Madison's ability to thrive but I desire the same for all children. Senate Bill 161 will get us closer that goal.