October’s nationwide opening of the new film Waiting for “Superman” is igniting new interest in the desperate desire of thousands of low-income parents to get their kids out of failing, one-size-fits-all public schools into better-performing charter schools. The five children poignantly profiled in the film face barriers to their dreams in the form of too few charter school seats and a lottery acceptance process that makes their futures dependent on a roll of the dice.
Charter schools are fast becoming a vital education option for thousands of low-income students throughout the U.S. But immediate, viable, successful alternatives to failing public schools have existed, often right in parents’ own neighborhoods, for decades – and in much of the U.S., they pre-date the American public school system itself.
They are private and parochial schools, and they have been a lifeline for low-income kids for generations.
Since 1999 the Children’s Scholarship Fund has helped more than 111,000 low-income children attend the private and parochial schools of their parents’ choice with privately funded partial tuition scholarships. In fact, the Children’s Scholarship Fund is the only national K-8 scholarship organization in the country, providing help and hope today to kids who are eager to learn and to achieve.
Right here in Oregon, the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland has given more than 600 students a “hand up” in life through a private school education. Our “CSF-Portland scholars” have chosen a diverse range of Oregon private schools, but they are united in their gratitude to each and every benefactor who made their individual dreams come true.
“You have shown me that money shouldn’t hold anyone back from being successful in life,” said Faven A., a CSF-Portland scholar who went on to attend a private university. “What you have given me is so much more than money; you have given me opportunity, confidence, faith, and trust that life has meaning, and that I am meant to succeed no matter what obstacles come my way.”
Reforming our public education system is necessary, but low-income kids can’t wait for Superman. Through private donations from caring Oregonians, the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland gives parents a real choice today so their children can have a chance. For example, when matched by the national Children’s Scholarship Fund and by the parents themselves (who on average pay at least half their own tuition costs), a donation of only $100 covers a low-income child’s tuition for one month. If you would like more information about this life-changing program, contact Cascade Policy Institute.
Kathryn Hickok is Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland, which provides partial tuition scholarships to Oregon elementary students from lower-income families.