Two of Virginia Walden Ford’s children went to public schools and thrived. They had access to mentoring programs and classes that nurtured their talents. But it was the experience of her youngest child, William, that led her to become a school choice advocate.
In middle school, he started to show signs of academic struggles. At the same time, drugs and gang activity were on the rise in the family’s working-class neighborhood in the nation’s capital.
“I always said I would never lose my kids … to the streets, but I knew that if I didn’t do something, then the possibility that this child would not succeed was right staring me in the face,” Ford says.
She found a private scholarship that allowed him to enroll at Archbishop Carroll High School, where he started doing better “almost immediately.” He told his mother that, for the first time, he felt surrounded by adults who cared about his education almost as much as she did.
“That was my first time realizing that if a child is an environment that meets his needs, then he will thrive and he will excel,” Ford says.
That’s the kind of turnaround story Denisha Merriweather can relate to. She changed her own academic trajectory after enrolling in a private school with the help of a Florida tax credit scholarship. On the latest edition of our podcast, she talks with Ford about using her own experience to advocate for educational options in the political arena.