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Want to know how school choice is making a difference in the lives of children? The families will tell you. Across the country, thousands of lives are being changed every day as a result of access to educational options. Below is a selection of videos and short stories from kids and parents who credit school choice programs with improving their lives and giving them new hope for a brighter future.

 






LeeAnn was searching for a classroom environment that could serve her son Justin's needs. That's when school choice saved the day. Now, Justin is back to being "Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky." Read more.


At Armando's old school in Ohio, people would take his money for candy. Now, people are kind, his teachers are special, and he's getting the help he needs. Read more.


In her own words, Stephanie explains how she and her six-year-old son Mason had their lives changed as a result of school choice in Ohio. Read more.


For Sekou, school choice is not only helping him today, but he already has plans to use what he learns to help him take care of his family tomorrow. Read more.


Like most mothers, Liz has the highest hopes for her daughter, Lottie. In her own words, she explains the search that led her to school choice, and how it made those hopes a reality. Read more.

 

 


Opportunities Abound For D.C.’s School Choice Students

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Tiffany, Current college student

Former D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Recipient

 

Eager to escape the limitations of her inner-city school, Tiffany’s aunt encouraged her to apply for a D.C. Opportunity Scholarship. “I started praying every day because I didn’t want to go to a neighborhood school,” she says. Her prayers were answered when she enrolled in the freshman class at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C.  She immediately noticed a difference in the new learning environment. “The way people act toward each other, the activities, the curriculum,” she says.  “That’s the difference—Carroll has limited distractions.”

 

Tiffany attributes her drive to honoring the memory of her cousin, James, who was shot and killed at age 17. “He was going to be the first college graduate in my family, but he died before his opportunity.  Now I’m trying to step in his shoes, to finish what he started.” In 2008, Tiffany graduated as the Valedictorian of her Archbishop Carroll class.  She’s now a senior at Syracuse University, where she is majoring in bio-chemistry.

 

Rising to the Top: How School Choice Produced Valedictory Success in the Sunshine State

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Yvette, Mother of Justina and Shauna

Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program

 

When Yvette noticed that her daughters were losing focus at their public middle school, she wasted no time in exploring what other options were available to them. “She always showed us that you can’t go anywhere without an education,” Justina says. “That’s the most important thing to being successful.” Yvette learned about the Step Up For Students Scholarship, which serves students from households with income that meets the standard for free and reduced lunch, and began researching private schools in her Orlando neighborhood. 

 

Justina and Shauna were awarded Step Up scholarships to attend Agape Christian Academy, where the small class sizes and individual attention allowed them to academically thrive. “I ask a lot of questions,” says Shauna, “and the teachers really break it down for you. If you have trouble with something, they will be there to help you.”  The girls eventually graduated as co-valedictorians with 4.0 grade point averages. Because their mother was able to choose a school that provided a solid educational foundation, there is no limit to their potential success.

 

From Pinecones to the Choir: Georgia School Choice Is Turning Lives Around

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Carol, Mother of Middle Schooler Jeremy

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program

 

When he was in elementary school, Jeremy struggled with a learning disability that made attending school a challenge. “I got an email or a phone call every day with threats of suspension,” his mother Carol says. “He was getting C’s, the lowest grade that they could give. He had no confidence in math.”

 

Jeremy’s school informed Carol of the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program. Since receiving his scholarship, the turnaround—both behaviorally and academically—has been dramatic. “They say Jeremy is the best kid,” Carol says. “Last year he was the kid who was throwing pinecones at teachers and this year he is in the choir. This is a new kid here.” And when asked his favorite subject, Jeremy didn’t hesitate. “Math!” he said.

 

In Georgia, School Choice Transforms Tears to Smiles

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Jennifer, Mother of Middle Schooler Nicholas

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program

 

As a student with hearing loss, learning in a public school classroom with 25 students was difficult for Nicholas. Even as he sought extra help, he struggled. As his parents began looking for other options, they received a letter in the mail about the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program. “I cried,” says Nicholas’ mom Jennifer. “I thought it was a gift from above that we were going to be able to do something different.”

 

Nicholas is now excelling academically, earning straight A’s. “It’s easier for me to learn,” says Nicholas, “because there are not that many people in each classroom.” The entire family is happier,  and they’ve learned how to make the best of their situations. “[The school] turned a very stressful thing into something that has been very positive,” Jennifer says. “There are no more tears or fighting over homework.”

 

Charting a New Path: Options in Georgia Bringing the Best Out Of Kids

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Krista, Mother of Meghan and Erich

Kennesaw Charter School

 

Krista never expected the close-knit nature or the community atmosphere that exists at Kennesaw Charter School—nor did she realize how it would positively impact her children. “The school is the kids,” Krista says. “It may not be the best building, but what they are offering is something they are not offering at other places.” The school’s motto, “every kid counts,” is more than just a catchy slogan.

 

Krista and her husband are happy with the academic progress of their two kids, Meghan and Eric. The school’s dedication to individualized instruction and small class sizes ensure that every student is taught according to his or her individual need. Erich is now earning A’s and B’s and enjoying school, while Meghan is at the top of her class. “When I took Erich to kindergarten at our assigned school, when we walked in there, no one said a word to me,” Krista says. “The charter school is completely different.”

 

School Choice in Georgia Brings Back ‘Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky’

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LeeAnn, Mother of 10th Grade Justin

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program

 

“Ever since I was born I have been hard of hearing,” says Justin, a typical Georgia high school student. “And I’ve always been teased about it while I was in school.” That teasing soon began to affect Justin’s grades, and his mom, LeeAnn, became worried about her son’s wellbeing. She couldn’t afford a private school that would meet Justin’s needs, but then she heard about the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship.

 

Since receiving the scholarship, Justin’s life has changed. “His first year in private school was really about getting back to where he was,” LeeAnn said. “This year he’s completely back to the old Justin—Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky.” Justin’s success has meant the world to LeeAnn, who has never been more optimistic about her son’s future. “Now he has his hopes and dreams back again,” she says.

 

School Choice in Ohio Gets Brains Working and Students on the Right Track

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Armando, 5th Grader

Educational Choice Scholarship Program

 

Armando, an elementary school student recipient of an EdChoice scholarship in Ohio, can clearly see the difference between his old public school and his new one, Tree of Life Christian School. “At my new school, they give me more work,” Armando says. “At Tree they are kind.” At his old school, he says, “some people take other people’s money just for candy.”

 

At “Tree,” as he refers to it, he appreciates the brain exercises that help him stay engaged, as well as the extra attention students get. “At my new school, we have a lot of special teachers who help us with stuff we are having trouble with,” he says. At his new school, Armando also wears a uniform, to which he says: “I really don’t like uniforms, but if we wear whatever we want, it may not be appropriate.”

 

Lives Change As a Result of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship

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Stephanie, Mother of six-year-old Mason

Educational Choice Scholarship Program

 

“I don’t even know how to begin to convey what the EdChoice Scholarship means to me and my family. This is the first year that my child has received the EdChoice Scholarship and it has been more of a blessing than I could ever have imagined. I work a full-time job and do everything, financially and emotionally, for my family with no assistance. I work very hard but would never be able to afford private school on my income.

 

“I was going to have to send my five-year-old to an inadequate and failing school district. I know from previous experience that he would be ‘just a number’ and not flourish emotionally, academically, or spiritually. Then we were blessed with an EdChoice Scholarship. Raising three children alone is one of the hardest things I have ever done. The EdChoice Scholarship is more than a voucher to help pay tuition for my son. It is peace of mind and one less worry for an overwhelmed mother.”

 

Family First For School Choice Recipients in Pennsylvania

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Sekou, Eighth-Grader

Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program

 

Sekou is an eighth-grader at the Nativity School in Harrisburg, where he enjoys the environment he’s afforded because of Pennsylvania’s scholarship tax credit program. “I enjoy going there for many reasons,” Sekou says. “One reason is because there are smaller class sizes so you can hear more.” He’s learning more, too, thanks in part to the academic rigor of his new environment. “The classes are hard and you have to study more,” Sekou says. “If you don’t do your homework, you get detention.”

 

Though he’s not even in high school, Sekou already understands the value of the EITC program. “I’m grateful that I can get a good education at a private school such as Nativity School because of the scholarship support I received,” he says. “If you are smart and finish college, all your degrees will help you make enough money to take care of your family. That’s what I really want to do.”

 

Utah’s Carson Smith Scholarship Program Ends Tears, Jumpstarts Futures

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Liz, Mother of Lottie

Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship

 

“Lottie came to our family with Down Syndrome, among other gifts. Like most mothers I was excited for her to start school. It seemed that we had a terrific special needs preschool program here in Park City, and as Lottie approached that age we were thrilled that she would have the opportunity to attend. Soon after Lottie entered our hopes fell. Lottie was less than thrilled with going and was crying every time we tried to drop her off.

 

“Along came the Carson Smith Scholarship, allowing us to explore options outside of the public system. We found a private school and due to the funds that are given to our family, we can send Lottie to a program that truly fits her needs and continues to make us proud as we watch our little gal thrive. Kids of all ages love her and make her feel welcome and included. She loves her school…no more tears.”