Guest posted by Faye Adams, Florida Teacher
Inspiring educators – those who are teaching effectively and impacting their students’ lives in powerful ways on a daily basis – can be found in every kind of school.
I admire teachers who are passionate about giving their best every day. Regardless of a school’s location or demographics, nothing can dim the shine of a quality teacher’s efforts. These teachers have my admiration and respect.
Since great teachers like these do exist, they should be the standard in American education. Therefore, it should be a given that all children deserve the opportunity to learn in the classroom of a passionate, effective educator.
So, why is it that there is a debate over school choice? It is baffling that school choice remains a question in a country founded on the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
In large part, I believe the conversation over school choice has experienced a divide because the argument has pitted education against itself. It has become an issue of public education versus other educational options…and even more so a focus on where the funding “should” go.
In reality, though, there is a greater issue at stake – one that focuses on the ones we were meant to serve.
When I think about school choice, I think about Denisha Merriweather, a young lady who recently spoke at the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s National Summit on Education Reform. Her story was one of triumph and achievement, despite her family’s struggles.
She grew up in a low-income neighborhood, where a broken education system had continued to fail those in her family. In turn, this broken education system also denied a vision for what “could be” if they had only been afforded a quality education.
What is so powerful about Denisha’s story is that she was able to overcome the challenges her family faced. But it didn’t happen simply through her own efforts to succeed within a broken system; it happened as the result of having a choice. She had the freedom to leave her neighborhood school and attend a private, faith-based school through a scholarship program that was made available while Jeb Bush was Governor of Florida.
Denisha’s future expanded because of school choice.
At this new school, she was inspired and equipped to succeed beyond the boundaries that limited her family and kept them living below their potential. She was challenged to reach her potential. Not only did she go on to become the first college graduate in her family, she even expressed her desire to pursue her doctorate. A great story of triumph for sure.
Denisha’s story is heartwarming, but it grieves me to think of the could-have-been Denishas that are out there. Those who could have had a different, brighter future if they had only been given the chance.
You see, it’s not a battle over public education versus other educational options. And it most certainly shouldn’t be a fight over where the funding “should” go. It’s a fight for students – for the futures that “could-be.”
It’s about allowing all children access to a quality education that’s best suited to their needs and conducive to their educational success.
It’s about giving families the chance to liberate their children from schools that are providing subpar services and ensuring every child has the right to sit in the classroom of a great teacher.
What would Denisha’s life look like today if she hadn’t had school choice? Likely, the same as it was for every single one of her family members before her: she wouldn’t have had a chance to reach her greatest potential.
Every child deserves the right to have access to a quality education delivered by a great teacher. Let’s not be pawns in a debate that keeps kids like Denisha from believing they can achieve more in life by having a quality education. Let’s have a heart for all children in our country, knowing that every child can succeed. Because for many students, it’s simply a matter of giving them the freedom to do so.
Faye Adams is a Florida Certified Teacher who has served the children of Florida as a third-grade teacher for more than ten years. During her teaching career, Adams has worked at Spring Hill Christian Academy and Dayspring Academy, a Pasco County charter school. Recently, Adams represented ExcelinEd in the “Learn More. Go Further.” initiative, spreading the good news of Florida’s educational successes as a result of the reforms instituted over the last 15 years. Adams and her husband recently welcomed their first child. She is currently enjoying motherhood and working to motivate and inspire others through speaking opportunities and her “They Can Learn It” social media outlets and resources.