Today marks the beginning of National School Choice Week, an annual celebration of the variety of high-quality academic options available to families across the U.S. Each day this week at Pioneer Institute, we’ll be highlighting charter public schools, the METCO program, digital learning, vocational-technical schools, and independent and parochial schools.
We kick off the week with video clips and op-eds featuring Cheryl Brown Henderson and Sephira Shuttlesworth, family members of Civil Rights leaders, who remind us of the central importance of school choice in delivering on the promise of equal educational rights for all.
We’ll be sharing school choice success stories all week – join in the conversation today by speaking up on Twitter, using #SchoolChoice, at 2:30 pm Eastern!
Cheryl Brown Henderson
Ms. Henderson, the daughter of the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case,
Brown v. Board of Education, was the keynote at Pioneer’s September 2016 event, “Equal Access to Excellence.”
Dr. Sephira Shuttlesworth
Dr. Shuttlesworth, widow of the Birmingham, Alabama, Civil Rights leader, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, & regional support director for SABIS® Educational Systems, was the keynote at Pioneer’s February 2015 forum, “Civil Rights: Charter Schools and Teacher Unions”
Opinion: Letting Mass. Charters Grow Fulfills Brown v. Board Promise, Plaintiff’s Daughter Says
By Cheryl Brown Henderson
Education is the “most important function of state and local governments… It is doubtful that any child can be reasonably expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity… is a right that must be made available to all on equal terms.”
Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 school desegregation case in which my father was the named plaintiff, is usually remembered for striking down the doctrine of “separate but equal” schools. But I believe this is the excerpt that captures the ruling’s true meaning.
More than 60 years after it was decided, our nation still struggles with how to live up to Brown’s call to make equal educational opportunity a reality. The latest front in the battle for equality is a high-profile Massachusetts ballot initiative that would allow up to 12 new charter schools to open or expand each year in the state’s lowest-performing school districts.
Op-ed: Give more minority students hope — lift the charter cap
By Sephira Shuttlesworth
By 1959, my late husband, the Birmingham, Ala., civil-rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, had been beaten with bike chains, brass knuckles and baseball bats by a segregationist mob, had his church bombed twice and survived his house being bombed by the Ku Klux Klan on Christmas Day. On a Monday night that year at the St. James Baptist Church, he was convening a mass meeting of his parishioners and other community activists.
After weeks of harassment from the Birmingham Fire Department, firemen showed up claiming a “report” was called in about a fire in the church. Upon leaving the church to resume the mass meeting at another church a block away, Fred Shuttlesworth told the Birmingham fire chief, “Y’all think it’s a fire in there? You know there ain’t no fire in there. The kind of fire in there you can’t put out with hoses and axes!”
And so it is for thousands of poor and minority students who are trapped in chronically underperforming schools in urban areas across Massachusetts with no means of escape. Read more in the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, The New Bedford Standard Times, or The Lowell Sun.