School choice parents to PTA: ‘Stop the attack on our children’

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The Florida PTA encouraged its members to fight a bill that would strengthen and expand Florida's tax credit scholarship program, which serves low-income families.
The Florida PTA encouraged its members to fight a bill that would strengthen and expand Florida’s tax credit scholarship program, which serves low-income families.

Last week, the Florida PTA sent an action alert to its members, pressing them to call lawmakers about the bill to expand tax credit scholarships for low-income students. The alert said, “Tell them to “STOP THE ATTACK ON OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS!”

Parents of children with tax credit scholarships fired back. One wrote, “Stop the attack on our children.”

Some sent messages to the PTA; some to the same lawmakers targeted by the PTA; some to both. (The scholarship parents were notified about the PTA missive and encouraged to respond by Step Up For Students, which administers the scholarship program and co-hosts this blog.)

One of the ways we believe our blog can add value is by highlighting the voices of those central to the  school choice debate and yet too often not heard. To that end, we think the parent responses to the PTA are worth consideration. Here are excerpts:

Thank you!

Can I just take a minute to say that again?  THANK YOU!

For the past year, my third grade daughter has been able to attend a private school, with a student/teacher ratio of 1/17.  She LOVES her classes, and is excelling quickly–so far making straight A’s. There is no way my husband and I could afford to send her to private school without the help of the Step-Up-For-Students scholarship.  Unfortunately, I had to put her 7th grade brother into a public school system this year in order for him to be able to potentially qualify for the private school scholarship next year. Within the first two weeks of public school, he asked if I would personally provide his transportation rather than having to ride the bus.  His reason, “I am required to sit by these boys on the bus, and they are perverted.  They look at everything as perverted, and constantly make disgusting jokes.”  He also told me the other day, “I don’t think I have a single friend at school who doesn’t cuss, although a few of them are trying to stop.”

While I do believe that a child has to learn to work within the world they are living, I also realize that the public school system–by sheer nature of its size and responsibility–has been unable to keep its head above water in student discipline, moral standards, and sometimes in “plain ol’ good manners.”  For fear of being called politically incorrect, they have not checked many issues of morality, and have allowed students with low moral values to bully others in the name of tolerance.  For my children to be successful in the bigger picture of life, they need to be educated in a safe environment that cultivates good morals, as well as high academic standards.  Giving me the opportunity to choose that for my daughter has been a breath of fresh air.

***

To the Florida PTA,

I am a parent of two children who receive the vouchers to attend a private school that I have chosen and found to be academically challenging. My children receive high quality education. Not only are they succeeding in their grades but in their testing they have always scored above their grade level. Please understand that the amount we receive is about HALF of what a public school student would receive. Why would there be a problem from a state that has overcrowded public schools and always seems to fall short in funds for education. Since my state does not hold my child’s education as a priority, I have placed my children in a school that I have chosen for half the cost and by opinion more than double the educational value. I am not only speaking as a parent… But as a public school graduate, and a teacher.

***

STOP ATTACKING LOW INCOME FAMILIES !!! My husband’s a hard working American!!!!!! A religious based school is what works for our family. Step up has given us that wonderful choice. Tax money is tax money .  God bless

***

We are recipients of the Step Up for Students.  We have made the choice for our children to go to a Classical school as that has proven to help them overcome their learning disabilities and excel.  Their last SAT scores ranked our 2nd and 3rd grade students in Middle to High School in some areas.  Our Middle and High School children ranked post-HS in many areas.

We were happy to pay for the private school as that has proven to help our children flourish.  It wasn’t until my husband lost his job and returned to graduate school that we were told about Step Up for Students.  We have our two younger children on it but are unable to enroll our older children as they would have to go to a public school for a year to qualify.  We couldn’t justify doing that to our two older children as they are the proof that this education model works to help them excel despite their disabilities.

It is our hope and prayer that when my husband finishes medical school, we will no longer need the Step Up help and can relinquish it so that those funds may be a blessing to someone else.

We have many families in our school who have children that desire a challenging education that are from single parent homes and this Classical model provides just that.   One student came to our school as he was terrorized at his old school and his parents couldn’t afford the private school.  He has flourished at our school but he doesn’t qualify for Step-Up because he is in 5th grade.   This program works to help students not only go where it is safe, but gives them a chance to make choices about how they will prepare not only for school, but for life.

My parents taught me that live debt free and to work hard and if you need something, get a second job, no excuses.   When my husband lost his job, I was a stay-at-home mom.   I was able to find a great secretarial job (in two hours actually- completely a gift from God).  My father was the one who encouraged me to go on Food Stamps because the program was started for people like our family…..people who needed temporary assistance.  I am happy to say that even though my husband has still not completed his schooling, he was able to find PT work and we are now back off Food Stamps. 

Step UP for Students gives the parents the choice where they want to use their tax dollars in educating their children.  Right now, we have no choice.

***

I am not against public schools, I am for freedom of choice for all families.

For this reason I find very suspicious any group calling themselves The Florida PTA is against facilitating freedom of choice for families to use their own tax money to choose what school they send their children to whether the school is religious or not.  The agenda of organizations like the Florida PTA seem to be more rooted in preserving their own relevance and self preservation.  I think that the primary reason that organizations like the Florida PTA are resistant to such programs and their expansion is because they have not adequately determined what the function or relevance of their own organization would be in a future with more private schools than public schools.

People are free to send their children to public school if they like. And I am concerned because organizations like the PTA DO NOT represent the majority of parents or any of the parents in Florida that I know and I wonder if they have not been hijacked by some kind of political action front pushing their own anti-freedom, anti-values and anti-religion agenda.  I think we’ve all had enough of this.

***

Stop the attack on our children.

Please vote for voucher bill PCB 14-03.

My son was hospitalized from bulling in public schools, after he told the school about the bullying it still happened. The only way i could send him to a school he feels safe was Step Up for Students, being the only provider for my son I need Step Up for Students for my son he is very happy and a mentor to younger children.

What a miracle from a student who would rather die then go back to public school.

***

In the three years I have received funding through the scholarship program, I have noted a vast improvement in my childrens’ vocabulary and math solving skills.  My son, who three years ago was in the 7th grade in the public school system, was reading on a 5th grade level.  This was acceptable to his teachers as evidenced in his test scores and grades reflecting average results.  In his current private school, not only has he become grade level, he now anticipates completing his first year of college in his senior year.  How encouraging is that for a child that was regarded as having learning disabilities and passed over in the public system?  Again, he is NOT alone, there are many others that benefit from this program just as my children have. 

***

I have been a recipient of the Step Up for Students scholarship and have seen how my son has been affected in amazing ways!!!!!  I am a single Mom and struggle to put food on the table, to pay my rent, the basic needs that so many take for granted.  To be in this position that I never EXPECTED, well, unless you have walked in my shoes you really don’t know what I and so many other Single Parents deal with.

Step Up helped me to have my son in a school and class small enough to care for him and about him without having 25-30 kids trying to get the teachers attention, and the teacher exhausted and underpaid trying their best to get the FCAT passed!  Their main focus is not our kids anymore it’s ridiculous tests that place unrealistic labels on children for life!

Do you really want to have a generation of children who will become, under-educated and emotionally stunted adults?  We have an epidemic of Single Parent homes and if we don’t pull together to help what we will see in the years to come is a nightmare that could have been avoided! …

Please help Step Up for Students give me the opportunity to continue in my journey and my son to reach his FULL POTENTIAL.  

I will not Shut up and I will not Give up……I AM A MOM.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Not cool to pit parents against each other. This is either an April Fools jokeI guess SUFS is realizing that people are waking up to their shenanigans and you are getting desperate.

    Your first letter confirms what I have long thought. People are not concerned so much about education as they are the type of kids their own children sit near. Vouchers are about segregating from the “riff raff”. Thanks for proving my point!

    And for all those straight A students, we have no idea if those grades mean anything since we do not have standardized tests to compare students. “A” grades are often given at private schools to keep the “customer” happy.

    • Dear “Traditional Public School Teacher”,
      Never underestimate the importance of composing complete sentences. I’m glad you are not my child’s teacher. Spend less time worrying about how others choose to educate their own children, and more time perfecting your grammar skills.
      Sincerely,
      “Concerned Parent”

  2. I knew that someone would criticize me for the typo. It was only a matter if time. That’s fine. Everyone likes to jump on the teacher who makes a mistake. I get that. It must be nice to be perfect and never be guilty of a typo. I thought that SUFS wanted a more civil dialogue. Rather than focus on a silly error, why don’t you address the actual content of my post?

  3. Hi Traditional Public School Teacher, Hi Concerned Parent, thanks to both of you for commenting. We do want to keep it clean and civil. Please do that or we’ll have to do what we hate to do – which is cut off the debate.

  4. I am so thankful for my daughters SUFS scholarship. I as a single mom and doing my best to raise my daughter Ina Christian environment and one way I choose to do so was at a Christian school. Not only is the school teaching God daily it also is academically challenging. She’s been at the school since she was in K and pray earnestly that she won’t ever have to go anywhere else. Thank you for this opportunity to help my child and many others like her.

  5. I’m a public school teacher. I don’t care if parents send their children
    to private schools. As a parents, we all have every right to choose what is best for our children. Public schools are overcrowded and we can’t reach every kid because of it.
    I would love to see a classroom of 12 or 15 students one day. We have classes up to 25.
    I have both of my children in a private school and they are happier now than when they were
    In public school. And as an added bonus, they teach them morals from the bible, so they won’t have to end up reading the bible in a jail cell. I love teaching but public schools need to realize that the student to teacher ratio has to go down. Maybe with all these private schools we will finally see it.

  6. Hi Marti, Hi Heidi. Thanks for taking to comment and to share your thoughts about the program and school choice. As we’ve said many times, nobody makes the case better than you, the parents.

Comments are closed.