Jessa Potvin

School Choice Unites Left And Right

August 3, 2016

Jessa Potvin

While deep division runs between America’s two main parties on many issues, school choice is increasingly becoming a point of bipartisanship.  U.S. Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey and former mayor of the city of Newark, has witnessed how school choice can change the fate of students and desperate cities. He recently spoke about how personal the issue has become for him:

“…For me, [school choice] is not an academic discussion anymore. This, to me, is families that I know, neighborhoods. I’ve seen the kind of transformation that could be made. I’ve seen how kids who have no history of college in their families suddenly have the arc of their families’ trajectory changed, as they’ve been liberated from what I call the imprisonment of institutions of failure, and now have pathways to institutions of excellence, all the way through college.”

We’ve witnessed the same transformative effect of school choice policy in our own state.  Many students are better able to reach their full potential, and we brought some of their stories to light in our Empower Opportunity publication last year.

When we last spoke to Tricia Lisinski, her twins Damien and Dante had begun first grade and were thriving at Carolina Voyage Charter school.  “The boys are now getting the attention they deserve,” said Tricia, “We are absolutely thrilled with our choice.”

With the help of an Exceptional Needs Tax Credit Scholarship, autistic student Cody Hollingsworth was likewise able to attend a school that met his needs, Hidden Treasure. “Cody is very intelligent, and the small classroom atmosphere really helps him, his grandmother told us.”

These stories and students are crucial reasons to continue to expand education options in South Carolina; many students still don’t have access to the services and opportunities they need to succeed.  As our state begins planning for a new legislative session, Senator Booker sets forth a vision that both Republicans and Democrats can rally around:

“We all have rights to equal opportunity.  We are… fighting… to make true on that — that a child born anywhere in American, from any parents, a child no matter what their race or religion or socio-economic status should have that pathway, should have that equal opportunity, and there is nothing more fundamental to that than education. That is the great liberation.”