by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
In case you missed it, there’s a great opinion piece in the News & Observer this week, written by Brian Lewis, a former lobbyist for the teachers union. In it, he talks about moving from staunch opposition to school choice to strong support in the course of a year, as he struggled with choices about his own daughter’s education. The piece is deeply personal, thoughtful, and worth reading in its entirity.
I commend Brian Lewis for writing this. Even more, I applaud his advocacy for his daughter and his determination to ensure that she had access to the educational opportunities that were best for her. He writes, in part,
This experience is not only about my daughter’s education. It has become my education. I can afford this option for my daughter, but what about the thousands of families, unlike me, who cannot afford tuition to send their child to a private school? Don’t their daughters’ struggles count, too?
The answer is they should. Sadly, if I hadn’t had this very personal challenge, I could still be on the opposite side of the private school doors trying to keep them shut to parents who desperately need this option.
It is about my child, and your child, and children all across this state who deserve the best we can give, just as private school was the best Isabel’s mother and I could give her.
This experience has changed me, and I want it to better shape the dialogue about school choice in North Carolina. It’s not just our state’s poor and underachieving schools where kids are being left behind. It’s in every school in North Carolina, because sometimes public schools are not a good fit for all students.
So after an education like I’ve never had before, I am re-entering the debate, still an avid believer in our public schools but a supporter of school choice, including opportunity scholarships, and public charter schools.