“There are really hard-working families who would like an opportunity for their kids. It just seems so outrageous that anybody wants to squash that.”

“I have two kids in public schools here in Hanover County, and we’re pretty happy with our school system – but there’s the bigger picture. There’s always been a sense that you could do more for schools, particularly inner-city schools. Now there’s momentum that says ‘let’s offer parents a choice.’ School choice gets parents more involved.”

“I’m a talk show host in central Virginia and I’ve talked to a lot of parents who are concerned about schools. I’ve also had a lot of elected officials and public servants on to talk about school choice, address concerns and answer opposition. I try to let people know ultimately, it’s about a mom or a dad. Wherever you might be, parents can say ‘my child would be better served in a different environment and I’d like to have that option.’”

“I have said for years that every student should have some kind of Individualized Education Program similar to what special-needs students like my daughter Julia have. My wife and I are just blessed on every level. It’s one of the reasons we came to Hanover. From day one, they said ‘Well, we’re going to do everything we can for Julia, and we’ll work with you’ and they’ve never ever said ‘here’s the roadblock. You go hire a lawyer, and figure out a way around it.’ But I’ve heard some real horror stories.”

“I think it’d be a good template for all school choice. Not every child needs the detailed analysis like special-needs students have, but we could have that framework. It could be a great tool for every child that’s attending school. An IEP would say to mothers and fathers ‘before you choose something else, we would like you to really look at your initial public school assignment.’”

“I’m a product of public schools; I believe in public schools.”

“My three kids are all products of public schools and we’ve been very happy with them – I happily support them. But I also understand if your opinion is that your son or your daughter is going to be better served somewhere else it’s ultimately up to you as the mom or dad to say, ‘No, this is not quite working for us.’ More power to you – your son or daughter should be getting what works for them.”

“In Hanover County, we have the International Baccalaureate program and trade schools offered. But, if you have a child that is really interested in rocket science, and we don’t have a rocket science program, is there any reason that they shouldn’t be able to avail themselves of that education if it exists in a neighboring community?”

“There are some in public education who look at these options and say ‘that’s taking money from me, that’s my money, I’m entitled to that.’ And the kids are much lower down on the pecking order. There are people who see those tax dollars as theirs and how dare anybody question the idea of them spending it wherever they want?”
“The opposition blows me away, because there’s not much substance to it. They just say ‘this is evil’ and ‘you want to shut down all public schools’ or ‘you hate public school teachers.’ That’s not even close to the mark.”

“I have not heard much in terms of opposition from parents who send their kids to public schools which, to me, is the interesting part. I hear from a lot of parents who would not avail themselves of school choice, but want the opportunity for other parents.”

“It’s such an important issue and I really am hopeful that, over the next couple of years, we’ll be heading in the right direction on this.”

Jeff Katz
Ashland, Virginia