Black Alliance for Educational Options Leaders Issue Call for More School Choice in Ohio
The chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, Kevin P. Chavous, today joined with BAEO's president, Kenneth Campbell, in denouncing the conviction of Akron mother Kelley Williams-Bolar. Ms. Williams-Bolar was convicted and sentenced to prison for sending her children to a better public school. Mr. Chavous and Mr. Campbell today issued the following statement:
"We are outraged at the circumstances that led to the prosecution and conviction of Kelley Williams-Bolar. As reported in the Akron Beacon Journal, Williams-Bolar was found guilty and sentenced severely for an act that defied the strict letter of the law but does not defy reason. She sent her daughters to schools outside her district of residence.
Ohio law says that if you live in Akron, you must send your children to your neighborhood school, even if it is a failing school and regardless of whether you feel your child would get a better education and stand a better chance of success elsewhere. The law says you're stuck—unless you're wealthy enough to opt out or fortunate enough to get into a high-performing charter school or to get selected for one of only 14,000 EdChoice scholarships available state-wide.
Williams-Bolar is not wealthy, so paying private school tuition for her two children was not an option, nor could she afford to move out of public housing and into a district with better schools. To be fair, Ohio has done more than most states in terms of providing options for parents whose children need better educational opportunities. But clearly, more could and should be done. In far too many states, however, these parents have no choice at all. It is high time we change the laws that force low-income and working-class families to choose between playing by the rules and doing what's best for their children.
Earlier this month, our nation honored the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and this week, BAEO joins families, educators, and advocacy groups coast to coast in celebrating National School Choice Week. The Williams-Bolar case is a sober reminder that Dr. King's dream remains unrealized, and parental choice is the most pressing civil rights issue of our time. Every child deserves access to a quality education, and as Dr. King said, we must act with the fierce urgency of now.
Today, Kelley Williams-Bolar is serving a jail sentence for pursuing a better educational option for her daughters. Meanwhile, her children must—like thousands of other low-income students of color—endure a sentence of their own: consignment to unsafe, underperforming schools in close proximity to their homes, year after year. There is no justice here."
For more information on BAEO visit www.baeo.org.
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