‘No child left behind can be accomplished if all private schools participate’

Editor’s note: The debate over school choice might be less tense if we heard more from the parents, teachers and principals who have decided an alternative setting is best. Nadia Hionides, who recently penned a heartfelt letter to The Beaches Leader newspaper in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., offers a good example. Hionides runs The Foundation Academy private school in Jacksonville, where about 90 of 280 students benefit from tax credit scholarships for low-income students. As her letter shows, her goals aren’t privatization and profits; they’re justice, equity and diversity. She credits Florida’s two K-12 private-option programs – tax credit scholarships (administered by Step Up For Students) and McKay scholarships for disabled students – with helping her school reach those schools. Below is her letter. Hat tip to Elizabeth Watson, Step Up’s director of operations support services, for sending the letter our way.

I am an educator for 35 years, a school owner and principal for 25 years.

I came into the profession to help promote equity and justice in America.

We are all unique and creative beings. There is no one size fits all way of learning and growing into  successful, compassionate, well-adjusted people.

I cannot think of a better way to promote equity and justice in education than through the Step Up/McKay scholarships.

These scholarships not only equalize the playing field economically but allows those in poverty to enhance the lives of the economically privileged by being in the same private schools.

We all gain in a diverse environment. We all lose in segregated settings.

Myself, my students, my  teachers and my community are all blessed through this amazing scholarship.

No child left behind can be accomplished if all private schools participate.

Only in the diversity of private school choices, along with public school, can we meet the diversity in children and achieve successful, well-educated, globally competitive students.

I am privileged to be part of something that changes lives.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at rmatus@stepupforstudents.org or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at facebook.com/redefinedonline.

One Comment

Private schools should not be forced to participate in government initiatives intended for government-funded schools. Otherwise they cease to be private schools. What country are we in again?

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