Earlier this month, we celebrated the new federal holiday of Juneteenth, to celebrate the newfound freedom our people gained after the end of the Civil War. However, 158 years later, while Black people are physically free, our communities are still fighting for the educational freedom of their children.   

 As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” So, as we celebrate Juneteenth this year, let us first take some time to remember that we are still in a fight for complete freedom — freedom of the mind and the body.  

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 13 out of 100 Black students are proficient or above level in math, and only 15 out of 100 in reading. For comparison, 43 out of 100 white students are proficient or above level in math and 41 out of 100 in reading.   

This means that our Black students across the country are struggling in school at disproportionate rates. And struggling in school can lead to many adverse outcomes for children, including higher dropout rates, higher poverty rates, and higher rates of negative interactions with the criminal justice system.  

We cannot be content with simply being free from slavery. True freedom comes when you are afforded a quality education and knowledge that can never be taken away from you.  

There is a reason slave owners forbade enslaved people from learning to read and write. They knew that knowledge was a powerful tool and tried their hardest to keep Black people from gaining it. 

Part of the reason they fought so hard to keep Black people ignorant was to continue building wealth off of their backs. Money has always been the reason to keep people oppressed.  

While we are no longer enslaved in the United States in 2023, many opponents of school choice are trying to keep Black students oppressed by forcing them to stay in schools that are failing them. 

 True freedom would be to empower families with the tools and resources to choose the best education for their children. More states continue to pass school choice legislation, but the fight is never over.  

Opponents are constantly working to overturn programs and strip freedom and choice away from parents. When thinking about the reasons why, we should take time to remember why slave owners in the 1800s did not want enslaved people to read. Put simply, it is all about money. 

We see that echoed today, as a system that fails us sees our students only for the dollars they bring it. If you are rich enough to afford a quality education, then you receive it, but if you are less fortunate, you are not afforded this same opportunity. 

 School choice policies such as tax credit scholarships, charter schools, vouchers, ESAs, homeschooling, and so much more are working to bridge this gap. 

The reason school choice is so powerful is that it empowers Black students and other less fortunate students to have the power of knowledge to control their own destinies.  

It is all of our responsibility to fight for our students, and I hope that next Juneteenth, every Black child across the country will have the freedom to attend the best possible school, without limitations. 

SOURCE: msn.com 

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