This past week, students, parents and educators gathered in Frankfort to voice their support for educational freedom, also known as school choice. The Supreme Court of Kentucky decided that our current constitution prohibits families from using state education dollars for anything other than public school. While public school is great for many students, it is not the right fit for all. Unfortunately, only families with the necessary financial resources can choose a different learning environment if their children fit into the latter group.

School choice creates better educational experiences for students

There are a few private schools that have opened in recent years that are affordable opportunities for working families. On Thursday, students from some of those schools shared their stories at the Kentucky Capitol. We heard from a young man who immigrated to America as a child. He spoke no English when he attended public elementary school, but thanks to a scholarship, he graduated as president of his senior class at a private school in Louisville and is now a college graduate with a business degree. He shared how the trajectory of his life was determined by the educational choices his family made.

We also heard from a courageous middle school student who shared how she felt unseen and ignored at her previous school and how she compromised her values just to fit in with her peers. She was participating in behaviors and activities that made her dislike herself because she felt it was necessary to make other students like her. Thanks to the community’s generosity, her family was able to send her to a private Christian school, where she feels seen and heard for who she is, not what she does. Her family’s educational choice for her is already impacting the direction of her life.

Two other high school students shared how they faced constant pressure to participate in gang activity at their previous school. They live in a community where the reality of gang violence is a daily occurrence, and the pressure to participate is intense. These young men spoke of the relief they felt knowing they could attend school to learn academics and what it means to be a man of quality and character. The choice their families were able to make, thanks to the generosity of community members, won’t just impact their lives; it might save them.

I had the opportunity to attend the school choice rally with my students from More Grace Christian Academy. The choices their families made will impact not only their lives but the communities where they live, serve, and lead as adults.

Financial assistance is still a need in Kentucky education

Sadly, the scholarships and tuition assistance available to the students at the school choice rally are insufficient to meet the demand. Many families want similar education choices for their children, but the resources to provide that opportunity are still limited because Kentucky refuses to fund students rather than systems.

Kentucky lawmakers have the opportunity to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would open up opportunities for educational freedom for all students across the state. The voters will determine if families, not the government, should direct the educational path for their children. Throughout this process, it is vital to remember that an amendment won’t just change the state constitution; it will change lives.