Supporters and Protesters of School Choice Rally at Capitol

Could 2017 be the year for school choice in MN?

St. Paul, MN – Supporters and protesters of school choice gathered at the Capitol Tuesday for National School Choice Week.

Republican State Representative Ron Kresha introduced the Equity and Opportunity Scholarship Act in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Kresha’s bill would authorize the creation of “opportunity scholarships” – scholarships provided to low- and middle-income families to send their children to the school of their choice.

Supporters for school choice and dissenters within the teachers union gathered in the Capitol rotunda for a school-choice rally. One of the speakers of the rally, former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan, responded to those who oppose school choice, stating, “We simply say everybody deserves the right to feel as strongly and passionately about their school as you apparently do, and some kids are not in schools that are great for them and would like a different choice.”

Entrepreneur Reynolds-Anthony Harris, who helped found the Minnesota Harvest Initiative, an organization comprised of businessmen from the African American community who try to address issues their community is facing, says the core of the issue is about building community relationships, saying, “At the heart of all of this we are really pushing for all parents in Minnesota to have the best collaborative relationship that they can have with their educational institutions, at the teacher level, particularly.”

School-choice supporter and local entrepreneur Houston White says young people aren’t being trained for life in the real world, explaining, “They end up in a wasteland, so to speak, because they’re detached from the idea of being educated at a higher level, but they also don’t have the opportunities to go about trade school or that type of stuff, so I think kids need access.”

Members of the teachers union Education Minnesota testified at an informational hearing for the bill, claiming the program will lead to the “gutting” of funding for public schools.

Representative Kresha’s bill has bipartisan support and is sponsored in the Senate by Republican Senator Roger Chamberlain.

Julia Erynn