It’s easy to forget, with new voucher programs in Indiana and Louisiana, with school choice verging on mainstream in Florida, with so many other states moving the ball on vouchers and charters and virtual education, that the choice movement was a lonely place not long ago.
Alberta Wilson was a foot soldier more than a decade ago – she founded scholarship funding organizations in Pennsylvania and Virginia – and she remains a stalwart today. At a school choice rally in Virginia earlier this year, the founder of the Faith First Educational Assistance Corp. told the crowd it’s time for parents to end an educational system that plays “eenie, meenie, minie, moe” with their kids’ lives.
“I said no longer are we leaving it up to chance, whether or not that parent has the income, whether or not they’re in the correct zip code” to determine if a child has access to a quality school, Wilson said in the redefinED podcast below.
The remedy for chance, she said, is more choice. And she’s pumped by the accelerated pace of change: “I believed that it would only be a matter of time, and we would see the dream realized,” she said. “And we’re seeing that right now.”
But hurdles remain. Like us, Wilson thinks there is a big need to redefine public education so it’s no longer synonymous with public schools. She sees public schools as one of many options under a broad umbrella of public education, with parents using public money to pick the options they think are best.
It’s a distinction that much of the public doesn’t get, yet. Wilson pointed to a recent state legislative hearing where lawmakers said they wouldn’t back school choice options until public education was fully funded.
“What they meant was, until public school was fully funded,” she said. “So they’re the legislators and if they don’t get it, I’m telling you, we have a lot of work to do in redefining this terminology.”