Tuesday, February 15, 2011

School options are scarce for poor families

Here's a letter to the editor by Meisha Headen, the Ohio state director for Democrats for Education Reform, about Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Akron women thrown in jail for sneaking her kids into a better school:

School options are scarce for poor families

Published: Monday, February 07, 2011, 4:01 AM


In its editorial Wednesday titled "Good parent, bad citizen," The Plain Dealer writes that Akron resident Kelley Williams-Bolar had "options" other than falsifying records to send her daughters to the "excellent" Copley-Fairlawn school district. We need to explore the real options available to the poor who aspire to better the lives of their children through high-quality education.

In the Buchtel cluster of the Akron City Schools, where Williams-Bolar lives and now must send her daughters, there are seven schools -- all of which are given the low rating of academic watch, with the exception of Schumacher Elementary, which has a rating of continuous improvement. There are 14 free, open-enrollment, public charter schools in Akron -- but 12 of those are rated academic watch, while only two are effective.

Williams-Bolar could have applied to any of the 10 parochial schools accepting the EdChoice Scholarship Program in Akron. But those are private schools that can charge tuition in excess of the $5,000 provided by the program, and limit the number of students accepted.

Nobody is justifying Williams-Bolar's violation of Ohio law. But dismissing her action as simple lawlessness misses the most important question: Why are low-income parents in Ohio forced to send their children to failing schools?

Miesha W. Headen, Richmond Heights

Headen is the Ohio state director for Democrats for Education Reform.

The only thing I disagree with is this line: "Nobody is justifying Williams-Bolar's violation of Ohio law."  Heck yeah, I justify it!  By any means necessary!  I wish EVERY low-income parent whose only option is to send their kid to a school that's been failing every year for decades would show up (with their child) in front of the good school a few miles away and DEMAND to be allowed to send their kid there – now THAT would create a media storm!

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