We've said it before and we'll say it again: school choice is coming to Virginia. The questions that remain are "When?" and "How?" There is no "if." In fact, it's not just The Family Foundation (and the public via polls) in support of school choice. It's the mainstream media and Hollywood!
Last Sunday, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a piece on the SEED school in Washington, D.C. SEED, an urban public boarding school similar to charter school initiatives, first opened its doors in 1998. It immediately gave inner city students a chance at educational success that they normally would never think to dream. In a community that normally graduates only 33 percent of its high school students, 97 percent of SEED graduates are accepted into college. Due to its overwhelming success, SEED began another school in Maryland and is working with Ohio and New Jersey to begin schools in those states.
Sewing SEEDs of education and opportunity: 60 Minutes spotlights a success government-run schools couldn't replicate with all the tax payer money in the world.
In fact, SEED has been so undeniably successfully, it has been heralded by the Obama administration as a "true success story." Even another notoriously liberal institution — Hollywood, of all places — has noticed: The directors of Al Gore's climate change conspiracy film, An Inconvenient Truth, have produced a documentary entitled Waiting for Superman (see Variety review) in which an underprivileged student hopes to win a drawing for a slot at SEED in order to get the opportunity for academic success — and a change in life. Waiting for Superman received the Audience Award for Best U.S. Documentary in this year’s Sundance Film Festival and will be released in theaters this fall. See the trailer below:
A Washington, D.C. student waits for Superman. Virginians still wait for even modest education choice.
As SEED clearly demonstrates, contrary to testimony and liberal senators' reactions in the Senate Finance Committee this past General Assembly (if you haven't yet, you must see this, click here), the benefits of school choice cross racial, socio-economic and political party lines. School choice is the obvious solution for many families. Why has Virginia waited so long to adopt this common sense approach?
This past session, Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico) introduced a bill (HB 599) that would have created a tax credit for businesses and individuals that donate to scholarship funds for children attending K-12. Carefully designed to be fiscally neutral to the Virginia and fiscally positive to localities, this bill would have created a way out of failing schools for low-income families. In partnership with Delegate Massie, The Family Foundation will work this summer to build an even broader coalition of support for school choice initiatives and will once again push for educational freedom next session.
The 60 Minutes segment and Waiting For Superman prove an undeniable truth about human nature: The young naturally are curious and want to learn. Unfortunately, there's a counterbalancing truth as well: Government wants to control and, to that end, provides obstacles to freedom — and its people suffer.