National School Choice Week, January 20-26, is an opportunity for our community to unite around the principle that all children have the right to a quality education. Sadly, we are still far from achieving that goal.
The 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that the academic performance of America’s fourth- and eighth-grade students has remained stagnant over the past decade, with average test scores well below “proficient” for each grade level.
• The NAEP reported that, in reading, 37 percent of fourth-graders and 36 percent of eighth-graders were proficient.
• In math, 40 percent of fourth-graders and 33 percent of eighth-graders were proficient.
• The results were much worse for children from low-income families with only around 2 out of 10 proficient in reading and math.
Families with financial resources choose to move to neighborhoods with great public schools or send their children to a high-performing private school. Low-income families lack the resources to make the same choices, often relegating their children to low-performing schools. This is unacceptable.
In August 2018, The Atlantic magazine reported on a new poll by “Education Next” that shows that the majority of Americans, 54 percent, now support school choice for all families. The poll revealed that school choice is popular among the diverse population they sampled, including “parents with school-age children living in their home, teachers, African Americans, and Hispanics.”
The Nov. 20 article in the Wall Street Journal, “School Choice Moms Tipped the Florida Governor’s Race”, offers another indication of the growing demand for school choice that transcends all social, cultural, and economic levels of society.
Parents Challenge was founded in 2000 to empower low-income parents in the Pikes Peak region with the financial, informational, and personal resources they need to choose, and actively participate in, the best option for their children — be it public, private, charter, or home school.
Our program focuses on: Parental Empowerment, Scholarships and Grants, Student Services, and Community Engagement. Parents Challenge currently serves 200 students from 119 families in the Colorado Springs region — 50.2 percent are minority students, and 46.4 percent are female.
Our students outperform the proficiency rates of their low-income peers, achieve high attendance rates, volunteer in their communities, take part in extra-curricular activities, and graduate from high school.
Since our founding, we have empowered 2,400 students from low-income families to secure a quality education that will allow them to succeed in school and in life.
We invite parents, students, and community leaders to our 2019 Parental Choice School Fair, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 25 at the Space Foundation, 4425 Arrowswest Drive in Colorado Springs. Many local public, private, charter, and home school associations will be available to provide information on their programs. For more information, visit www.ParentsChallenge.org
We can no longer let our most valuable resource, our children, be denied access to a safe, high-quality education. Please take a stand for kids by joining us in supporting National School Choice Week.
Deborah Hendrix is the executive director of Parents Challenge, an organization founded by Steve and Joyce Schuck to provide greater educational opportunities to kids in the Pikes Peak region.