African-American communities

Back To School Day

Summer isn't over by nature's calendar. But for all practical purposes today marks the start of a new season, because today, for a majority of Virginians, is back-to-school day. Unfortunately, it’s a day that is not without controversy: From President Obama’s speech to students to the “mandatory” HPV vaccine for sixth grade girls, to a confrontation today at the U.S. Department of Education, sending our kids out the door in the morning isn’t quite the exciting and momentous time it used to be for too many families. In an interview last week with a reporter at the Wall Street Journal concerning President Obama’s speech, Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb said that parents should be able to decide what their children participate in and learn, but in many cases, they are the last to know.

So what is really at the heart of the controversy surrounding back-to-school day? It is the feeling that many parents have that they are powerless and have little control over what their children are taught in government run schools. While the uproar over the president’s speech has been mostly about the potential content of his remarks, the underlying problem is the serious lack of trust many parents have not just with this president (ironic that he’s addressing students in public schools that he never attended), but with the “public” education system as a whole.

No longer can we count on teachers and schools reinforcing the values that we teach our kids at home. In fact, we are pretty much guaranteed that our values will be attacked, ridiculed and undermined nearly every day.

It is partly this mistrust in the government education system that is leading to the ever-increasing support we see for education freedom. Late last year, The Family Foundation and the Virginia Catholic Conference underwrote a Mason-Dixon poll that found a majority of Virginians support a tax credit to parents who choose to send their children to a private school. Similar polling done in predominately African-American communities found that nearly 70 percent of those polled support private education choice. The momentum is growing.

Families want to know that their children are receiving the best possible education for their children, and that their values are going to be reinforced. Today, many children are in a classroom where the opposite is true in both cases. Why should these children be forced to receive an inferior education?

Today, two education freedom leaders, Virginia Walden Ford and Kevin Chavous, stood in front of the U.S. Department of Education building in Washington, D.C., blocking its entrance, to illustrate how President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have blocked low-income D.C. students from going to the schools of their parents’ choice by gutting funding to the D.C. scholarship program. Clearly, the battle for the minds of the future generation is in full swing.

The Family Foundation is a proud member of School Choice Virginia, an organization started by Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton) that is working to bring education freedom to parents and kids in our Commonwealth. Together with other pro-family groups and individuals that support choice, we will continue to work toward the day when parents and children can once again look forward to, and celebrate, back-to-school day because they know they are in the right school for them — the school of their choice.