United States

Op-Ed: I am a product of school choice

I believe in school choice for Pennsylvania because I am a product of school choice.

I attended private and public schools through the 1970s and 1980s. Also, I appreciate the high-quality education my children and grandchildren have received at public brick-and-mortar charter schools, cyber public charter schools, traditional public schools, and private schools.

It has been amazing to choose for each of my children and grandchildren which schools met their unique needs. I am proud to say that my adult children all contribute positively to our society from the skills and knowledge they acquired at Pennsylvania schools. My oldest granddaughter has been accepted to six universities here in Pennsylvania due to her public charter school and private school education. Also, arduous work on her part. Would these outcomes be the same if my zip code had dictated the schools?

The ongoing debate around funding school choice in Pennsylvania has damaged our national and local reputation as a state that doesn’t value education. It has hurt how teachers feel about teaching. It has impaired young people’s desire to become teachers. It repels teachers from moving to or staying in our educational system. It has caused division in our communities. It is hard to believe that there is even a debate when all of the funds come ultimately from taxpayers like you and me.

It is time to put all differences aside. It is time to see ourselves as a state that values high-quality education for all children and adults from kindergarten through post-high school studies, regardless of where they attend school.

We must declare that we value our students, parents, teachers, and leaders. We must train and empower our school boards to make appropriate decisions on the future of our schools and always maintain sight that the parents, grandparents, and communities are paying for our schools. Everyone’s voice is needed, matters, and will allow all schools to create opportunity, innovation, and unity for all children of Pennsylvania. Finally, we must recognize the positive effects school choice has on all schools and our economy.

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools will continue to be the catalyst for educational excellence through that same opportunity, innovation and unity. To learn more about our advocacy, please visit 143k Rising, a group dedicated to protecting access to charter schools statewide. Also, please join us with millions of school choice supporters across the country during National School Choice Week by sharing your story on social media.

Dr. Anne Clark is the chief executive officer for the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.

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