April is “The Month of the Military Child,” and serves as a reminder that military children serve our country alongside their parents and face challenges that most other students don’t think about, let alone experience themselves. Each military child deserves the chance to flourish in an education environment that best leverages their unique learning style and cultivates their talents. Unfortunately, while service members fight and defend our freedoms abroad, military families are too often denied education freedom at home.
The Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS) proposal would make a historic investment in America’s students, injecting up to $5 billion yearly into state-based scholarships to empower families with education freedom. Under the proposal, taxpayers who make voluntary contributions to state-identified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) will be eligible to receive a non-refundable, dollar-for-dollar federal tax credit. Those contributions will fund scholarships that families can direct to the education opportunities that best serve their child.
Here are the top three ways EFS could support military families:
Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century’s “Prince of Preachers,” said in a sermon, “A lie will go around the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” And in our age of social media, myths often travel faster than realities. As we celebrate National School Choice Week, myths abound concerning educational choice programs such as vouchers, scholarship tax credits, and education savings account programs.
Someone once told me, “You will know you are successful if you can create a school where students line up outside the gates begging to get in, like they do when an iPhone is released at the Apple Store.”
So much of what you hear about school choice has to do with funding, accountability or public versus private schools. These are all important conversations on the topic of school choice and should not be ignored. I think it is also important to highlight the other types of school choice that exist. School choice provides students with opportunities to learn in different ways. As an educator and mother, I encourage everyone participating in the robust school choice debate to join together to create new, innovative, and effective models of learning for students. This is an example where a district (with the same funding and accountability) made big changes and gave parents a choice.
Sierra didn’t always dream of working in the insurance business. In fact, until recently, she didn’t even know if she’d finish high school.
But with the help of a caring counselor, a local business and an innovative state effort, Sierra is now thriving in her new role as a full-time employee at Pinnacol Assurance.
Her journey from struggling student to working professional began when Sierra’s counselor approached her with a new opportunity through CareerWise, a Colorado nonprofit that helps businesses recruit talent through paid apprenticeships that begin in high school.
Six Montana students are warmed by a campfire with their teacher, Judy Boyle, and some of their parents who have come along on the ‘field study trip.’ The students, ranging from 1st to 7th grade, journal about the symbiotic relationships and geothermal features they observed and recorded during the day. Place-based education is one way Boyle enables her students to engage with science, their natural environment and community.
The Advantages of Being a Small, Rural School
Life in Divide, Montana, may look a little different from the norm in more populated areas. The two-room schoolhouse serves the six students enrolled at Divide Public School. On their commute to school, the Divide students and their teacher could be held up by a different kind of traffic – a herd of elk.
School choice is not about picking this building or that classroom – it’s much bigger than that. It’s about freedom to find the best way to learn and grow. Learning can, should, and will look different for each unique child, and we should celebrate that!
During the week, ED highlighted success stories of students who were able to find the right fit for their educations.
Every student in the United States deserves a great education. And, every parent in this country – regardless of background, income or zip code – deserves the right to choose the school that is best for his or her child.
To achieve that goal, Secretary DeVos has called for “a transformation that will open up America’s education system.” If we’re going to meet the diverse needs of today’s learners, we need fresh thinking and innovative approaches. There’s plenty we can learn from other countries, as they strive to prepare their students for 21st century realities.
Those lessons were the subject of a recent briefing at the Department – the first of a new series of learning sessions the Secretary has launched, focused on effective, student-centered education. The speaker was Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).