School Choice Ohio spent National School Choice Week hosting several events in areas all over the state – from Columbus to Akron, from Canton to Youngstown – talking about some of the great school options available to Ohio families and the importance of the state’s scholarship programs.
The week was lively! From school fairs to press conferences, from advocacy days to community events, here is a rundown of the highlights:
- We kicked off the week in Akron on Sunday with a School Choice Fair that highlighted more than 50 public, private, charter, virtual, dropout recovery, Waldorf, faith-based, and arts-based schools in the Akron area. Many local families had the opportunity to learn about the diverse array of options available in their community. Check out this article from the Akron Beacon Journal about the event.
- SCO held a press conference on Monday to discuss the legislative wins for Ohio families in 2011 and to announce our legislative goals for 2012. A parent who plans to use Ohio’s new special needs scholarship program shared her story and talked about how the scholarship will change her son’s life. We also took this opportunity to release SCO’s 2011 Annual Report and debut a new video that shows the growth and success of Ohio’s school voucher programs.
- Private school principals attended a roundtable discussion about school choice advocacy with nationally known parent advocate Virginia Walden Ford. Columbus supporters also gathered for an evening event with Virginia to hear about her experience as a school choice advocate in DC and learn from her successes.
- Tuesday was our Day at the Capitol. We co-sponsored a luncheon with Forum for Educational Options that celebrated the variety of Ohio’s educational options. Following the luncheon, School Choice Ohio partnered with our friends at BAEO for an advocacy day. Parents met with Ohio legislators to discuss the need for more school choice opportunities in Ohio. On Tuesday evening, Akron parents gathered for an event at Emmanuel Christian Academy with Virginia Walden Ford to discuss the importance of school choice advocacy.
- Thursday, we hit the road and headed to Northeast Ohio. We invited local media outlets to Heritage Christian School in Canton and Youngstown Christian School in Youngstown to learn more about the impact of school choice in their communities. Local media outlets attended both events where we discussed the state’s scholarship programs and highlighted success stories from local families. Read the article from the Canton Repository here and the article from the Youngstown Vindicator here.
We couldn’t be happier with our events last week, and we are especially grateful to Virginia Walden Ford for traveling all the way up from Arkansas to celebrate with us. We are also thankful that Gov. John Kasich recognized School Choice Week in Ohio with a resolution.
This is just the beginning of an exciting year. Your support is so important, and we are thankful for your involvement. If you would like to join our efforts in new ways, whether as an ambassador, donor, supporter, or volunteer, we welcome your partnership.
Thank you for celebrating School Choice Week with us, and stay tuned for more exciting news throughout the year.
School Choice Ohio is grateful to have such a strong team of school choice parent and student ambassadors across the state who write letters, give testimony, and share their stories. As School Choice Week comes to an end, take a look back at some great quotes shared by Ohio parents and students.
“It was not easy to make the decision about using the EdChoice Scholarship Program because we were very loyal to the public schools. However, now my son receives an excellent education and the discipline, respect, and encouragement that are instilled in him at home are being reinforced at school. My husband and I feel that the EdChoice was the best opportunity that the state has given children.”
– Renetta, mother of an EdChoice scholarship student
“In my daughter’s public school, she was doing advanced work but she was still bored to tears. She was slipping through the cracks. I was so happy when the principal at her new school called and told me about the Cleveland Scholarship. I enrolled her right away and now I see such a difference. She is taking Latin classes, playing the cello, and learning science – she loves it!”
– Seanette, mother of a Cleveland scholarship student
“I discovered the Autism Scholarship Program when my daughter was 13. She has come a long way from being extremely shy to very sociable. The focus at her new school is on her strengths instead of her deficits.”
– Toni, mother of an Autism scholarship student
“EdChoice has given me the opportunity to go to a private school with an excellent curriculum and great teachers. Thank you for helping me to reach my goals and obtain an excellent education.”
– Jordan, EdChoice scholarship student
“This new Special Needs Scholarship Program will open up doors for our children, let us make the school choices and reduce the anxieties we feel as parents to find the best school to address the special needs and learning styles of our children.”
– Fati, mother of two children with special needs
“I couldn’t afford private school tuition, so I am blessed to have this scholarship. The Cleveland Scholarship Program is a good program because it gives our kids an advantage. The scholarship gives him an advantage in his future – in school, college, and beyond.”
– Debra, mother of a Cleveland scholarship student
“EdChoice offers hope to families who aren’t able to afford a private school. Hope that anything is possible. It proves that you can reach for the stars for opportunity. It’s great that all children have the same opportunity no matter what the financial status.”
– Julie, mother of an EdChoice scholarship student
“For my children, having the ability to make this choice means a brighter future. I can’t possibly express how much this scholarship will change our lives and my children’s futures.”
– Angela, mother of two children with special needs
Lisa Hall, mother of an Autism Scholarship student, shares how the scholarship helps students with autism develop into “functional members of society.” She also stresses that without the help of the scholarship, she wouldn’t be able to afford to give her child the same types of services that he needs in order to thrive.
2011 was hailed by many, including the Wall Street Journal, as “The Year of School Choice.” That was certainly true in the Buckeye State as we saw the creation of a fourth scholarship program for Ohioans as well as expansions to the state’s current scholarship programs. These positive steps forward for school choice in Ohio echoed the success of the school choice movement nationwide.
Our friends at the Alliance for School Choice released their 2011-2012 School Choice Yearbook today, and they reported that a record number of children enrolled in private school choice programs in 2011. In total, seven new scholarship programs were enacted and 11 programs were expanded. More than 120 pieces of private school choice legislation (not including companion legislation) were introduced.
Another great resource for national school choice information comes from our friends at The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Check out the 2012 ABCs of School Choice.
Some important national highlights from 2011 are below:
- Arizona created the nation’s first Education Savings Accounts that will serve children with special needs.
- The Washington D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was reauthorized for five years, thanks in part to the great work of our National School Choice Week guest, Virginia Walden Ford.
- Indiana created the Choice Scholarship Program, an income-based scholarship program that is the broadest voucher program in the nation.
- North Carolina created the Tax Credits for Children with Disabilities.
- Wisconsin expanded the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the nation’s oldest voucher program.
Because of the great progress made across the nation in 2011, thousands of students will have the chance to find the school that best fits their needs. We are excited to see these opportunities for families expand in 2012.
Cleveland parents and students talk about the positive impact of the Cleveland Voucher Program.
In honor of National School Choice Week, enjoy this video of Representative Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) speaking about the importance of educational freedom during the 2011 School Choice Celebration and Rally at the Ohio Statehouse.
There is incredible diversity within the Ohio school landscape. Schools are creating innovative programs that focus on arts, math, sciences, languages, different teaching styles, different learning methods, career preparation, college preparation, and so much more. This innovation is happening in urban, suburban, and rural schools, in private and public schools, in new and old schools, and in home school and formal schools.
At a School Choice Week event today at the Statehouse, School Choice Ohio teamed up with Forum for Educational Options for an event to celebrate Ohio’s educational options. More than 100 people attended the luncheon and presentation, which highlighted a variety of school options located across the state, including:
These schools provided a window into some of the amazing creativity of school leaders who are able to innovate as a result of policy changes that create new funding models and flexibility. Policy leaders and social entrepreneurs have enabled and created an incredible, and ever-growing, variety of options for families to find the best fit for their child.
In addition to highlighting Ohio’s educational options, we also honored legislative “trailblazers” who championed Ohio school choice legislation both past and present. Because of the hard work and perseverance of these trailblazers, thousands of Ohio students are thriving in a learning environment that best fits their individual needs.
- Senate President Tom Niehaus
- Secretary of State Jon Husted
- Former Representative Dixie Allen
- Former Representative Jon Peterson
- Representative Matt Huffman
- Speaker Bill Batchelder
The best way to experience the diversity of Ohio’s schools is to visit them and see for yourself. If you’re looking for suggestions of schools to visit, let us know, and we’ll gladly point you in the direction of several star examples.
Marie Johnson can now give her daughter the services she needs thanks to the Ohio Autism Scholarship. She emphasizes the importance of giving students all the support that they need in order to excel.
Bernard Peters’ grandson is only in first grade, and he is already learning a second language. Peters credits his grandson’s success to being able to attend a great school thanks to the EdChoice Scholarship.
Governor John Kasich issued a resolution designating Jan. 22 – 28 as School Choice Week in Ohio. Within the resolution, Gov. Kasich notes that by observing School Choice Week, Ohioans recognize that our state is in the forefront when it comes to giving all children access to a quality education.
This resolution coincides with National School Choice Week that will feature more than 340 events across the nation. In Ohio, there are many events taking place all over the state. Visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com/events to find a School Choice Week event near you.
How do you plan to celebrate School Choice Week?