Students, Congressmen Rally in D.C. for School Choice
by Maggie McKneely • January 29, 2019
To kick off National School Choice week, which has been celebrated every January since 2011, members of the Congressional School Choice Caucus hosted a press conference on Capitol Hill. The event provided an opportunity for students from different educational backgrounds to express why school choice is important to them—including local homeschool student Arielle Knight.
Instead of getting on a yellow school bus each morning, Arielle and her siblings start their day by caring for the myriad of animals her family raises in Virginia.
Arielle told the gathering that the beauty of homeschooling is the wide diversity of experiences and opportunities it allows for. Arielle says homeschooling has taught her to take ownership of her education, whether that be discussing aerodynamics at the dinner table, showing livestock at fairs, or speaking at a congressional press conference.
The Congressional School Choice Caucus was formed to encourage states and local districts to embrace alternative educational choices. Caucus members believe that while educational choices should ultimately be left to the parents, the federal government should do what it can to encourage school choice.
Congressman Paul Mitchell (R-MI), co-chair of the caucus, personally understands the important of school choice. Mitchell’s 17-year-old daughter attends a virtual school while his son, an 8-year-old adopted from Russia who has learning disabilities, is homeschooled.
Mitchell emphasized that different children have different needs, and that the availability of alternative educational options empowers students and parents alike. As he put it: “The choice in educating your child is critical for success of the family and the child and, frankly, the nation.”
Focus on Children
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), the caucus’ other co-chair, spoke as well. Scott grew up in an unstable, low-income household; as a result, he attended four different schools within four years when he was in elementary school. He, too, understands the impact that education has on a student and believes children should be able to receive the educational option best suited for their needs. “If parents have a choice,” he said, “students have a chance.”
Congressmen Joe Wilson (R-SC), John Moolenaar (R-MI), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) also attended the press conference and expressed their support of school choice.
For Arielle and the other students in attendance, the press conference was an opportunity to meet lawmakers and engage with Capitol Hill, an experience they couldn’t have gotten from a classroom. As more and more families opt to homeschool each year, we’re grateful to have friends in Congress who shine a spotlight on the importance of educational freedom.