How Searching Options for My Family Led Me to the School Choice Movement

As the United States locked down in March 2020, I joined parents across the country in scrambling to find information about schooling options for my three young children (5, 4, and 2.5 at the time). Their private Montessori preschool, like all schools in New York state, transitioned to virtual learning and did its best to deliver curriculum electronically–a situation far outside Maria Montessori’s visionary pedagogy.

I was on maternity leave from my position as a math professor. Juggling a newborn and schooling her siblings from home was challenging, but not without its joys. My children became the highlight of the college classes my husband taught online from our dining room table. Despite the increased family time, we needed to know more about educating our children, especially with the prospect of a long lockdown looming, my paid maternity leave ending, and no day care for the baby. Would we be able to afford sending our children to private school on one salary?

When we moved to New York for work, we learned that our children’s assigned public schools were failing. So we enrolled them in private school. This is something we never thought we’d do as parents. My husband and I are the products of public schools and were both public high school teachers before pursuing our doctoral degrees.

Fortunately, our children’s private school implemented the necessary public health precautions and resumed in-person learning the following fall. Our city’s public schools remained shuttered. As a professor turned stay-at-home mom, I began researching ways to offset the cost of private school.

I discovered EdChoice.

Their website provided credible information about educational savings accounts and introduced me to the grassroots effort organizing parents to advocate for better schooling options for their children. When I first discovered EdChoice, only two states had educational savings accounts, but, in a short time, that number quadrupled. It was exciting to see parents like myself bringing change to their communities. Now, even more states are considering alternatives to help families choose schooling suitable for their children and methods to afford it.

Inspired by EdChoice’s legislative successes, I contacted Keri Hunter, Vice President of Training and Outreach. She enthusiastically oriented me to the school choice movement. Keri invited me to a screening of the documentary about Kendra Espinoza and mailed me a wealth of resources, including a book on Virginia Walden Ford’s influential story. My grassroots school choice education continued at parent advocate trainings, where we discussed critical issues such as funding public schools, spending transparency, and spreading the word about school choice locally.

It’s been wonderful getting to know the experts at EdChoice. They’re giving a voice to parents like me. I’m excited to join them in their efforts to educate the public about schooling alternatives and make these alternatives a reality nationwide. I am looking forward to attending EdChoice’s 15th Annual Media Training Conference this fall to help amplify their message. And give our children the schools they deserve.

Congratulations on your 25th anniversary! Let’s keep up the good work together.