In the pages of the Wall Street Journal [subscription required], Virginia Walden-Ford explains how school choice changes lives:
[Under the DC School Choice Program,] now in its third year, more than 6,500 families have applied for the 2,200 government-funded scholarships that have been awarded. For the school year 2006-2007, more than 1,800 students are receiving opportunity scholarships worth $7,500 for tuition, transportation, school supplies and uniforms at the private school of their choice.
The 66 schools in the program have welcomed the children and families, set high expectations and provided a safe and supportive environment where the children can learn. Most of the families have chosen to send their children to neighborhood schools, but some families have chosen Georgetown Day and Rock Creek International School, where their children learn next to the children of U.S. senators and diplomats. These schools, whose normal tuition exceeds the $7,500 voucher limit, have not charged the families more than that.
The program is an outstanding success. One second-grade girl is learning two foreign languages and hopes to be a translator one day. Another parent reports that her once-shy son is now confident and flourishing in his new school because his teacher cares for him. The program has impacted the parents as well: One mother says her daughter’s new attitude and success has motivated her to get her own GED. Another father who didn’t want his son to “end up like me” is now clean and sober and enrolling in a technical training school.
The journey for more than 2,200 children, parents and families who have received school vouchers is just beginning.