EDUCATION + FREEDOM
Join us in celebrating
Both are amazing, separately and together.
Education is the ticket to the future, the great equalizer. And, as the upcoming July 4 holiday reminds us all, Freedom is also the means to incredible outcomes for all people. In this nation, it’s been the ticket for many from their native country’s oppression, and the path for all to entrepreneurial work, productive life, to happiness. When you put the two together — EDUCATION + FREEDOM — it can literally determine whether you participate in the outcomes of this great nation or whether you are relegated to another status altogether.
In the ramp up to the 247th celebration of national Independence, millions like us — you and I— are more committed than ever before to ensuring every American has the freedom to pursue their dreams. And for anyone not born into those dreams — e.g., most of America — that starts with education.
I’m so excited we are doing our part to make that happen…
Just Announced! The Yass Award for Education Freedom
Where freedom exists, opportunities are created. But sometimes it takes a little time. At the Yass Prize, time is not our friend. The effort I’m proud to help administer is dedicated to solving the education crisis by finding, rewarding, celebrating and expanding best-in-class education organizations that accelerate impact with the speed and urgency that our students deserve.
So when three states did something considered almost impossible just a few short years ago, it was just common sense that we’d celebrate them and help them ensure that more families are able to participate in their state’s pioneering education choice programs.
Enter the Yass Award for Education Freedom, which will award $5 million to education providers in Arkansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma who STOP for Education. We’ve invited governors to nominate 10 groups/schools/etc. ready, willing, and able to expand rapidly to accept the students who wait in the wings for the education they need and deserve. As Yass Prize Founder Janine Yass says,
“Every child should be educated in a way that best meets his or her needs, and every educator should be free to deliver that education. We are proud to accelerate and help scale these efforts.”
Will it be Education or Friday night lights?
Okay, maybe that’s a cheap shot, but with 11 states having adopted or expanded education freedom this year alone, and three standouts (see above story) who went practically from Zero to 100 in doing so, one would hope Lone Star Staters would follow suit. Word has it that Governor Abbott plans to call a special session to ensure consideration of his proposed education savings account. And who precisely is against this concept of freeing students from being confined to one district and one type of education? In Texas, it’s the school boards, the teachers associations (unions), and many a Rural Republican concerned about losing students and their funding. That’s a red herring and an irrational fear, but sometimes having Friday night lights wins out over education. Go figure.
Speaking of Education Freedom…
A long overdue national tribute to Civil Rights Activist, Advocate and Author Dr. Howard Fuller put it so succinctly in his earth-shaking remarks to the crowd:
“It’s not about charter schools. It’s not about private schools. It’s about freedom.”
The Freedom Coalition which Fuller founded brings together people who represent Black and brown children to work toward obtaining precisely the freedom they need to succeed.
The Birthplace of Freedom could use a little help
The quest for Education Freedom in Pennsylvania, and specifically in Philadelphia, has never been more important, or lasted longer. Among 26 major urban school districts, Philly students rank near the bottom in math and reading.
But it’s not just about the stats, it’s about the fact that opportunities are denied students to attend schools that would help them learn, even among charter schools that are kept limited by power and resources. The Lifeline Scholarship Program would change all that and provide every student who’s most in need the chance to be educated as their families choose.
It’s even gotten the support of Democrat Governor Josh Shapiro since before he took office. Just last week he told Fox News,
“I believe every child of God deserves a shot … and one of the best ways we can guarantee their success is making sure every child has a quality education. I've been very clear that I'm open to that concept that you described a moment ago [Lifeline Scholarships], but I've also made crystal clear that I won't take a dollar out of our public schools in order to achieve that.”
And therein lies the rub. If every school continues to get funds for students who leave, you create huge inequities. Policymakers will never expand programs that cost double, families will complain, and students in schools that need to improve won’t. It’s called being “held harmless” and as I’ve argued before, it’s bad policy, harmful to kids and harmful to real freedom.
See you in a couple of weeks! Happy Independence Day! Celebrate the opportunity to make this, the freest and “the last best hope of earth,” a more perfect union!
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