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Education reform pioneer shares her fight for school choice in latest memoir

Virginia Walden Ford, an education reform pioneer whose efforts helped bring school choice to our nation’s capital, recently released her new memoir, School Choice: A Legacy to Keep.

In her memoir, Ford shares “the improbable true story of how her childhood experiences prepared her for a life of school choice advocacy,” according to PRWeb. The lessons Ford learned growing up during the civil rights movement set the stage for her work decades later to win a better future for children. She mobilized families in Washington, D.C. to protest the capital’s broken education system and demand better education options.

In the process, she and other low-income parents steadily built community support for their efforts but faced sustained criticism from school choice opponents. Aligned with an unlikely set of allies in the U.S. Congress, they eventually won the fight to create the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in 2004. Since its inception, the program has provided scholarships so that more than 10,000 children could attend the private schools of their parents’ choice.

This past summer, a study by the Institute of Education Sciences concluded that students who participated in D.C.’s scholarship program had greater perceptions of student safety, higher student satisfaction, and lower chronic absenteeism, as I previously wrote about here.

Ford’s inspirational story was turned into a major motion picture earlier this year (Miss Virginia), and it is definitely worth watching. Thank you, Ms. Ford, for fighting for children and recognizing the importance school choice plays in shaping their futures.

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