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This week we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King across the country. This week is also National School Choice Week (NSCW).
NSCW focuses on providing equal access to high-quality schools, a mission that mirrors Dr. King’s dream for equality. The school choice movement also challenges long-established social structures. But, as Dr. Howard Fuller points out in a recent opinion piece, it is one of the most important battles of our time.
“Working relentlessly to empower poor parents to choose the best education for their children while making sure those choices are excellent and equitable is one of the battles that must continue,” writes Dr. Fuller. “Not to take up this fight is to, in fact, dishonor King’s memory.”
Dr. Fuller points out that real freedom comes from the power to choose:
“I call on all my fellow warriors not to be deterred by those who believe that the only way to move forward is by returning to the “one best system” and therefore oppose giving poor families the power to choose, a power that so many who oppose it relentlessly use it for their own children.”
Dr. Fuller also addresses the false narrative that choice leads to segregation:
“There will continue to be people who oppose charter schools because they don’t “promote integration” or they create all-black or -brown schools. They level these criticisms while comfortably set up in communities that provide a quality education for their children in nonintegrated or white-dominated schools. They somehow conveniently forget that many of these all-black or -brown charter schools bring good schools into communities that have been underserved and neglected for years.”
The reality is, as Dr. Fuller so eloquently explains, school choice opens doors for ALL children.
In fact, the most recent study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) shows schools of choice provide significant gains for students of color.
The CREDO study examined Indianapolis’ unique Innovation Network Schools program. These schools have academic and operational autonomy. They are also held accountable to the local district for student outcomes.
The network includes traditional district schools, charter schools and innovation schools similar to charter schools.
Researchers found that black and Hispanic students saw 65-100 days of additional learning in the charter and innovation schools compared to traditional district schools. In math, they gained between 84-94 additional days of learning.
Those are really big and very important numbers. These are numbers that show a clear path to a better future. These are numbers that show how access to a good classroom can make a real difference.
These are numbers that show why we need programs similar to Indianapolis’ Innovation Network Schools right here in Missouri.
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