By Tillie Elvrum
Can you believe it? Boot Camp 2015 is in the books! After all the panels, breakout sessions, and presentations, our annual Parent Advocacy Boot Camp has come to a close. And I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out!
We had a full house of advocates who were eager to learn how they could further their children’s educational choices in their states and across the country. Our enthusiastic crowd of both new and seasoned parent advocates listened to a variety of sessions — from ESEA reauthorization to student-centered accountability to social media — and asked thoughtful questions about each topic.
Our two and a half day conference wrapped with a rally for school choice by the U.S. Capitol and meetings with legislators about why they should trust parents to choose the best educational environment for their students. Three Members of Congress were honored with our Champion of School Choice award and we were encouraged about the state of the movement after hearing about Kara Kerwin and Kevin Chavous’ great work in the field. We missed Congressman Todd Rokita, but Congressman Luke Messer and Senator Tim Scott passionately spoke about education reform. They both shared the same quote, which speaks volumes: “When parents are given a choice, children are given a chance.”
As I begin my two year tenure as President of PublicSchoolOptions.org (PSO), I am inspired by this bicameral, bipartisan work in our United States Congress. Elected officials in both houses want to create flexible, student-oriented, successful options for all children. Neither zip code nor socio-economic status should force a student to stay at a school that doesn’t work for them.
Beth Purcell, immediate past president of PSO, led us through tough battles in several states — such as Tennessee, North Carolina, and Iowa — but we cannot rest. Unfortunately for us, there are folks out there who want to limit student access to educational options. Unfortunately for them, we have the power, passion, and persistence of parents on our side.
After sharpening the tools in our advocacy toolkit, I know we are ready to fight whatever school choice battles lie ahead. Our bags are packed, our walking shoes are on, and our hearts are full of love for our most precious cargo: our children.