Reimagining Education

Next generation steps up to fight for school choice during NSCW

School choice works!

That is the message Kayla Jarvis and Robert Davis brought to Jefferson City on the second day of Missouri’s National School Choice Week.

They should know — they have both benefited from school choice themselves, thanks to years of efforts and advocacy from their respective single parents.

Now high school and college graduates (respectively) Kayla and Robert were at the state capitol this week to testify in favor of SB 5. They hoped their success stories would help to advance this new legislation that would create a framework for public school open enrollment in Missouri and provide greater school choice options for more Missouri students. (Learn more about open enrollment here.)

As excited as the two former students were to be following in their parent’s footsteps and joining the ranks of school choice advocates in Missouri, Kayla told senators on the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee that it was ludicrous that Missouri even needed a next generation of advocates to fight for students’ rights to quality education.

“No child should have to fight for their education,” she told the committee. “Parents should not have to go against school boards to provide their children with proper and valuable education. These are things that my mom, brother, and I had to do, along with many other families.”

Kayla explained that thanks to the transfer program she had been able to escape bullying and low-quality education in the Normandy school district after years of being ignored in a sea of students with issues and problems.

“No one listened to me, I was simply a whisper amongst screaming,” she said, noting that all changed when she had a chance to attend a different public school district.

“Pattonville made it feel less intimidating, giving my brother and I the chance to grow, to impact, to live,” she said, adding, “We are living proof that reform is needed to provide nourishment to the minds of our children, our future.”

Robert, who used his access to a better-quality school to secure a full scholarship to Washington University, had a similar story. (Learn more about Robert’s story here.)

“As a Black child of an interracial marriage, diagnosed with mild to moderate autism at age 4, and raised by a single father, I always felt different from my fellow students,” he told the committee. “Bullying made my life so bad that I was always in an alert state of mind. When the transfer program was announced, my father signed me up to make sure I would never be exposed to the negligent environment at Normandy High.”

Robert said the decision to move him to a different school district was life-changing, underlining the fact that every student learns differently.

“By the time of my graduation in 2017, I had won student of the year in my sophomore year, the Golden Helmet Award in my Junior year, and graduated with a 3.4 GPA,” he told the committee. “The transfer program gave me the opportunity for an education not available to someone of my background. It enriched my life, similar to the lives of every other student involved, by exposing me to an environment of fellowship that prepared me for a life of continuous learning both inside and outside the classroom.”

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