Cheryl Kirk (center) with her children.
My twins finished their official last day of school and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. They completed all requirements and are graduating high school. It has been a journey and has definitely taken a village.
It seems like just yesterday I was searching for the place where they would attend kindergarten. Now, here we are scheduling college orientation for both of them.
I’ve gotten a lot of congratulations on a job well done, but I can’t take all the credit. I would like to think that being able to choose the best school for them from the very beginning made a huge impact on how their K-12 story ended.
School choice allowed my children to avoid failing schools. It allowed me to choose a charter school, Christel House Academy South, where they began their K-12 education. We were one of the lucky ones; my children were chosen in a lottery to begin kindergarten at our first choice for a school. It was here where they were first treated as if success was the norm. Christel House Academy South’s longer school day and extended school year helped closed the education gaps many children had when they enrolled in the school. I watched as staff and teachers worked tirelessly to make sure every child was learning and meeting state standards.
Again as my twins prepared for high school, our assigned school was Thomas Carr Howe high school, where only 35% of students passed their end of course assessment, only 32% took the SAT, and only 61% graduated. After years of poor performance, the school was taken over by the state. The choice voucher program enabled me to opt out of our assigned neighborhood high school and I chose a quality college prep option for my children, Heritage Christian School.
At Heritage Christian School, 73% of the students are white. Some people told me that their 95% end of course assessment pass rate and 96% graduation rate would not include my brown children, but it did. I’m happy to say the teachers and staff rose to the challenge of the newfound diversity and provided a quality and rigorous education for my children.
My children were accepted to several colleges and had several scholarship offers. My children’s story could have ended differently if there was no school choice program in Indiana. One or both of my children could have been one of the children who didn’t graduate at Howe or they could have graduated, but not have been adequately prepared for college.
School choice is not about defunding public education. School choice is refusing to accept the excuses that poor and minority children are incapable of learning. Indiana parents must continue to refuse to support an education system that is failing to educate children year after year and school choice is one way to improve our education system.