AFPF-Indiana kicked off its celebration of National School Choice Week by hosting an event in Evansville Tuesday evening.Below is coverage of the event from the Evansville Courier-Press.
For Metcalf family, school voucher program proved the right choice
Area residents gather for celebration of National School Choice Week
By Megan Erbacher
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
EVANSVILLE —Two years ago, Marie Metcalf was desperate and down to the last straw in hopes of finding the right school for her then 6-year-old daughter Kyra. To Metcalf it looked as though she would have no choice but to quit her job and home-school her daughter.
But then, she learned about Indiana’s school voucher law that enables qualifying parents to use tax money to help pay for sending their children to private schools.
Metcalf explained her family’s situation to about 20 community residents and students attending a presentation in honor of National School Choice Week Tuesday evening at Evansville’s Oaklyn Branch public library. A sea of yellow scarves decorated the seats at the event organized by Ryan Black, field representative for the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
National School Choice Week is a celebration featuring around 3,500 festivities across the country with thousands of participants to highlight effective educational options for all American children regardless of gender, geography, socio-economic status or learning ability. Participants believe parents and children should have the ability to choose high performing traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, magnet schools, virtual schools or home schooling, according to Will Green, communications and media coordinator for the nation’s events.
Two years ago, the Metcalfs found themselves in a situation where Kyra, now 8, was in a D-rated school and was being exposed to inappropriate things from other children, and the school didn’t have the means to develop her gifted and talented test scores because they didn’t have the staff. Marie Metcalf said it wasn’t necessarily the facility or the faculty, but that a lot of classroom time was spent on behavior issues instead of learning time, and Kyra was a 6-year-old reading at a fifth grade level.
“It was really a no-brainer. I had to take some kind of action,” Marie Metcalf said.
She was considering leaving her job and home schooling Kyra, until she visited Evansville Christian School and someone there told her about the state’s voucher program which allows parents meeting income qualifications to receive tax money to supplement the cost of sending their children to private schools. Ranked as the nation’s fourth-largest school voucher program, it nearly doubled in size this school year, according to the Indiana Department of Education.
Now in third grade and in her second year at Evansville Christian School, Kyra, 8, is at a 12th-grade reading level and in the advanced reading program. Marie Metcalf said she gets more opportunities at ECS she wouldn’t have otherwise.
“She gets to be a leader … The program has changed our lives,” she said. “What more do we want than for our children to get the best education that they can.”
Americans for Prosperity Foundation state director Chase Downham said the group helps people at the grass roots level make a difference for economic freedom.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, grandparent, business owner, just run-of-the-mill citizen, education affects everyone,” Downham said. “So it’s important that we have quality education opportunities for everyone, and that taxpayers have some freedom in deciding how their tax dollars are spent on education … It’s not about public versus private, it’s really about finding the best education possible for children and at the end of the day that’s what we all want.”
Evansville resident Jim Braker and his wife attended Tuesday evening’s event because he is interested in education for his children and grandchildren. The couple went to Indianapolis two weeks ago in support of education reform.
“Education is a very important thing, and we like to see choice because it’s good for her,” Braker said pointing to Kyra Metcalf. “Because she is gifted, and they’re sometimes left behind.”
Tony Metcalf said his daughter wasn’t growing at her old school because she didn’t have to put forth any effort.
“She was steps above, and she wasn’t being challenged,” he said. “It’s (ECS) a more personalized education for her and it falls along with our family values. Without the program (vouchers), we would never have the opportunity to give our child a Christian education.”