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Entries in American Federation for Children (19)


AFC - Educational Choice Becomes Reality in North Carolina 

New Bipartisan Program Creates New Educational Opportunities 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 21, 2013) – The American Federation for Children (AFC), the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded the North Carolina Legislature for creating the nation’s newest statewide voucher program, the third created this year. AFC encouraged legislators to remain committed to expanding the program, to ensure thousands of children from low-income families will have access to quality educational options. North Carolina’s new Opportunity Scholarship Act received bipartisan support and was included as part of the budget bill which cleared conference committee and is expected to pass both chambers before being presented to the governor. The program is tailored to children who participate in the federal free or reduced lunch program. 

“North Carolina took a historic and positive step forward by creating this initial educational choice program and we remain committed to ensuring the program expands in order to provide greater access for children from low-income families who are in need of quality educational options,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “The bipartisan support for educational choice demonstrates the importance of this common sense education reform that empowers parents and puts kids first.”

Low-income families who qualify will be able to use a $4,200 voucher to send their child to the school of their choice. The program also includes strong testing and accountability measures.

In addition, the North Carolina Senate last week passed House Bill 269, known as the “Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant,” which provides up to $6,000 to children with disabilities to pay for private school tuition or related special educational services. 

These important education reforms were aided by the strong local support and leadership of Darrell Allison and his team at Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC).

“Parents and children across North Carolina and school choice advocates nationwide are grateful for the efforts of PEFNC and the bipartisan members of the legislature who fought to pass educational choice in North Carolina," said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel for AFC. "We are certain that the program will be substantially oversubscribed by parents anxious to obtain better educational options for their children and we urge the legislature and Governor McCrory to continue their efforts to expand parental choice and help more disadvantaged children across the state."

The American Federation for Children is the nation's leading school choice advocacy organization and works in states across the country to help secure additional, high-quality educational options for families.


AFC - North Carolina House Passes Educational Choice Program

Bipartisan support helps empower parents to make best educational choices for their children

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 14, 2013)— The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded the North Carolina House of Representatives for passing a budget that provides funding for an educational choice program creating new opportunities for thousands of North Carolinian children. North Carolina’s educational choice program received bipartisan support and is tailored to children who participate in the federal free or reduced lunch program.

“North Carolina families and children are grateful for the courageous leadership from bipartisan members of the House who fought for educational choice,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “This common sense legislation strengthens North Carolina’s education system by empowering thousands of parents with the opportunity to make the best educational choice for their children.”

As the legislation currently stands, funding will be increased each year, allowing an estimated 12,000 children attend the school of their parents’ choice.

The educational choice program is a part of the budget legislation and now heads to conference committee before being presented to the governor.

“This legislation enables students to obtain new educational options by allowing the funding to follow that student to a school that best fits the child’s needs,” added DeVos. “Parents and students across North Carolina remain hopeful that members of the House and Senate conference committee will recognize the importance of the educational choice program and the opportunities it will offer to countless children.”
The American Federation for Children is the nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization and works in states across the country to help secure additional, high quality educational options for families.

Read this release online here.


American Federation for Children Spent More Than $7 Million in 2012

Expands Educational Choice Support Across the Country

New report shows that leading educational choice group and its affiliates influenced more than 200 political races

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 10, 2012)—A new report released today by the American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for educational choice—reveals that the Federation and its affiliated organizations spent more than $7 million on political races in 2012, helping elect nearly 200 candidates from across the country who have pledged to enact, expand, and strengthen educational choice for America’s children.

The Federation’s 2012 Election Impact Report—the third annual report detailing the organization’s investments in political races nationwide—profiles its investments in 219 races in nine different states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. In total, 83 percent of the candidates supported by the organization and its affiliates in 2012 won their elections.

This year’s political involvement by the Federation and its affiliated organizations represents one of their largest investments ever, reinforcing their pledge to ensure that high-quality, accountable school choice legislation is enacted for children in greatest need of better educational opportunities.

“Our work in these elections is fundamentally important to the future of creating more, better, and higher-impact education reform across the country,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel to the American Federation for Children and a former Washington, D.C., Council member. “Through supporting a dynamic coalition of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who are committed to improving the lives of children, especially those from low-income families, we can transform the lives of more young people than ever before through educational choice.”

Approximately 40 percent of the Federation’s total contributions to candidates in 2012 went to Democrats, an indication of the growing bipartisanship present in the educational choice movement.

The Federation and its affiliated organizations use candidate questionnaires to determine which candidates will support educational choice if elected.  Support comes via combination of direct contributions, independent expenditures, and in-kind expenditures, as well as strategic placement of radio and television advertisements.

The 2012 Election Impact Report also features profiles of some of the most noteworthy newly-elected choice supporters as well as incumbents from across the states, including: Arizona Sens. Barbara McGuire (D) and Kimberly Yee (R), Florida Rep. Bruce Antone (D), Indiana Gov.-Elect Mike Pence, North Carolina Sen. Malcolm Graham (D), North Carolina Reps. Marcus Brandon (D) and Rob Bryan (R), Ohio Rep. Bill Patmon (D), Pennsylvania Reps. Jim Christiana (R) and Vanessa Lowery Brown (D), Tennessee Reps. John DeBerry (D) and Tony Shipley (R), as well as Wisconsin State Sen. Rick Gudex (R) and Wisconsin Rep. Kathy Bernier (R).

Nationwide, there are 32 publicly-funded private school choice programs in 16 states and the District of Columbia. This year, it is anticipated that approximately 250,000 children will participate in these programs.

To download the Federation’s 2012 Election Impact Report, click here.

Read this release online here.



AmericanFederationFor Children - U.S. Department of Education Interference Hurts D.C. Voucher Program Enrollment

Despite bigger appropriation and strong demand, fewer children enrolled for 2012-2013 school year

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 23, 2012)—The highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) enrolled 1,584 children from low-income families for the 2012-2013 school year—fewer students than last year—in a reduction that comes despite a near $5 million increase in funding over the previous school year.

The D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (Trust), which administers the program, received nearly 1,500 new applications for the 2012-2013 school year, despite being told not to accept applications after March 31 of this year. In addition, the Trust was not given permission to hold scholarship lotteries for new applicants until July of this year.

The lower enrollment numbers are the result of a year-long effort by the U.S. Department of Education to limit participation in the OSP. In March, President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal zeroed out funding for the program, contradicting the law he signed last year. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) then sent a letter to the president pressing him and the administration to reverse course and expedite full implementation of the program.

After several weeks of negotiations, Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman announced in June that an agreement had been reached with the Department that would fully implement the program. The Department’s overall implementation guidance to the Trust, however, resulted in just 319 children being offered new scholarships and prevented hundreds of additional children from enrolling, including eligible private school children from low-income families who were specifically excluded.

“It is simply tragic that fewer children are participating in the OSP this year given the availability of funds and the incredibly strong demand from low-income District families,” said Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the American Federation for Children and a former D.C. Councilmember. “This program provides children who are most in need with access to a quality education, and it’s appalling that the U.S. Department of Education continues to stand in the way of that vital choice.”

A bipartisan agreement in 2011 reauthorized the D.C. OSP at $20 million annually for five years. Under the FY 2011 budget agreement, the OSP received $15.5 million in funding for the 2011-2012 school year. The appropriation for FY 2012 was $20 million, which covered the 2012-2013 school year. For FY 2013, Congress is currently operating under a continuing resolution through March 31, 2013, which includes authority for the OSP to spend at an annual rate of $20 million.

Following reauthorization of the OSP last year, the demand was so strong that enrollment went from just over 1,000 children to more than 1,600— a 60 percent increase for the 2010-2011 school year. Demand was equally strong heading into this school year.

“Nearly 1,500 low-income families submitted applications to enroll their children in the OSP, but DOE’s guidance meant only 319 were offered scholarships,” Chavous said. “That’s not in the spirit of giving every child hope, that’s not fighting for equal access regardless of family income, and that’s not following the law.”

Because of the limited number of new students participating, a credible federal evaluation of the program cannot be initiated this year. The previous evaluation of the program found that OSP students graduate at a rate of 91 percent—more than 20 percentage points higher than those interested in the program, but who did not receive a scholarship. A subsequent study by the D.C. Trust found that 94 percent of participating students graduated in 2010 and 2011, and 89 percent of those graduates enrolled in a two- or four-year college. The program also enjoys very high parental satisfaction, with 92 percent of parents reporting being very or somewhat happy with their child’s academic progress in the program.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is the only federally-funded private school voucher program. Since its inception in 2004, more than 11,000 families have applied for the program, and nearly 6,000 have received scholarships.

Read this release online here.


AFC - News: Louisiana Teachers Union Makes Racially-Charged Claims about Black Education Reform Group

Louisiana Federation of Teachers makes outlandish, groundless claims that Black Alliance for Educational Options “endorses teaching that the KKK is good”

BATON ROUGE, LA (August 30, 2012)—One of the largest teachers’ unions in Louisiana said in a statement early today that the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)—a national group committed to helping give low-income African American families access to high-quality educational choices—“endorses teaching that the KKK is good,” a baseless an unsubstantiated claim that represents a new low in their continued opposition to reforms that challenge the educational status quo.

The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice, and a strong and unwavering BAEO ally—strongly condemned the remarks from the Louisiana Federation for Teachers (LFT), which appeared in a message posted on the official LFT Twitter page early this morning. The message was followed up with dozens of additional Twitter messages doubling down on the racist remarks, making demeaning statements about BAEO and other education reform groups and individuals, and making false claims about the nature of the statewide voucher program, its supporters, and how it affects children and families.

At no point on the Twitter feed does the LFT substantiate its claims—those that are completely at odds with the mission of BAEO and its like-minded allies.

“This is an absolutely appalling move by an organization that has taken desperation to new and unseen heights,” said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the Federation and the former board chair of BAEO. “BAEO and its allies fight every single day to give children from low-income families access to the best educational options possible. We fight to overcome the institutional bigotry that has sentenced thousands of black children across the country to a substandard education. It’s a sad day when an organization like the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, which says it cares about kids, is among the organizations using degrading, race-baiting tactics to demean the very people who are doing their best to give kids hope.”

Chavous also demanded an apology from the LFT, and called on them to retract their statements or provide evidence backing up their unfounded claims.

“The LFT owes an apology to the thousands of black families across Louisiana who, through the work of BAEO and others, have gained access to an education that has changed their lives for the better,” Chavous said. “That the LFT would also stoop to such a level as families pray for safety in the shadow of a hurricane demonstrates more clearly than ever that this is a group that is out of touch with black families, the values of the people of Louisiana, the history of our country, and basic reality.”

This is the second time in just over a month that a local teachers union has resorted to shameful tactics to try to prevent low-income families from taking advantage of the statewide voucher program. In July, a lawyer on behalf of the Louisiana Association of Educators sent a letter to schools participating in the voucher program, threatening them with lawsuits if they did not drop out of the program. So far, not a single school has stopped its participating.

“The resolve of parents and schools is far greater than the threatening or racist scare-tactics from special interest groups,” Chavous said. “Families will not be intimidated, and they will continue to fight to give their children the best education possible.”

Read this release online here.