Guest / Limited Access /
School Choice Programs Snowball
Image: Courtesy of House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Since launching in 2004, Washington, D.C.'s voucher program has helped send over 3,200 disadvantaged D.C. students to private school. The idea is simple enough: Parents receive a sum of taxpayer money to use to send their children to a better school, public or private. But opposition centered on the use of federal funds for religious education crystallized in 2009, when opponents convinced lawmakers and the White House to cut funding.

Among those who responded were Virginia Walden Ford, the founder of D.C. Parents for School Choice, and Kevin Chavous, a board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a network of education activists. The groups ran ads, sponsored rallies, mobilized parents, and even staged a civil disobedience protest in front of the Department of Education building.

"Fighting for this under a president for whom most of our families voted has been really hard. They believed in him, and he didn't support the program," said Ford. "It was devastating." The battle in D.C. is a microcosm of one raging across the country.

Spectacular Gains

Ford said that school reform has always felt like a calling, thanks to her family's history.

Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, Ford's parents were prominent public school educators at the height of the civil rights movement. They attended White Memorial United Methodist Church, where Ford was president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. The family's efforts to get Ford and other black children into desegregated public schools incited hate from the KKK, who threw rocks at the Fords' windows and planted a burning cross in their yard.

Her son's experience in public school has also fueled her fight. "Drug ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedDavid Was a Rapist, Abraham Was a Sex Trafficker
David Was a Rapist, Abraham Was a Sex Trafficker
What we miss when we downgrade Old Testament abuse stories to sexual peccadilloes.
TrendingHow 1,000 Women Who Aborted Feel About the Local Church
How 1,000 Women Who Aborted Feel About the Local Church
Survey: Two in three evangelicals were attending monthly or more at the time of their first abortion.
Editor's PickThe Colonists’ New Religious Mystery
The Colonists’ New Religious Mystery
Sorry, Pilgrims: Jamestown’s spiritual life is suddenly much more fascinating.
Christianity Today
School Choice Programs Snowball
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.