Making The Case to Fully Fund the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program and SOAR Act

My children are my life. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who feels that way. If you have children then you know what I’m saying when I say my commitment to them and their education is based purely on my love for them. It’s an adoration kind of love.

My five children and I live in Southeast DC. It’s not the best part of town but it’s not the worst either. I have great neighbors and I have not so great neighbors. I see middle class families in my community just as much as I see retirees and families receiving public assistance. My neighbors are white, black, Latino, and Asian. Short, tall, skinny, not-skinny, you name it, we have it. It’s a melting pot if you will. And although we’re different in many aspects, the one thing that remains the same is our commitment and love for our children. I watch as these parents make the best decisions they can for their children every single day – regardless of our zip code.

My children are recipients of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program as part of the SOAR Act. All of them have been or are being educated at St. Anthony Catholic School in Brookland because of the scholarship. I could not have asked for a better place for my children to receive their foundational learning. St. Anthony has prepared and is preparing them for their lives beyond secondary school.

My oldest son now attends Archbishop Carroll High School where the academic rigor he receives is far more than I could have ever asked for. He’s being prepared to succeed.

My second to oldest son is a freshman at Banneker Senior High School, a traditional public school in Northwest DC. He loves it. It challenges him. It presents him with the room to grow and learn and contribute.

My daughter is my third oldest and she is SUPER smart. I often tear up thinking about just how intelligent she is and how much more awesome she’s going to be as she continues to grow. She’s starting her freshman year at Georgetown Visitation high school. My daughter is a leader.

Finally, I have a sixth grader and fourth grader still at St. Anthony, both boys, who complete my five wonders. As they continue through elementary school I see them blossoming as well; both with their own distinctive personalities. They make me proud. They are smart and bold and unapologetic about who they are and the paths that their siblings have created for them. Great things are waiting for them. I just know it.

So now you know us. My children are awesome and smart and handsome and beautiful and creative and phenomenal and mine. But they are also black children to a single mom who, if statistics and society had its way, are supposed to live and learn within our zip code. I’m not going to do that to them.

I love DC. I was born and raised here. I graduated from Duke Ellington School of the Arts. I rode a bus across the city to school everyday because I had a choice of where I was being educated. I work at a charter school now in the city where I see parents exercising their choice of where they send their children to school. I watch my sons catch the bus and subway to go to their private and public school each weekday morning because it’s our choice. I kiss my children when they are dropped off each morning at St. Anthony…again, our choice.

That’s what this is folks. It’s about having options, having choices of where to send our children to school regardless of our socioeconomic levels. My children’s lives will forever be changed because of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Please understand that this is not about politics. The key word in all of this is “opportunity” because that’s what this scholarship gives my children everyday.

I know there’s a war going on against our black boys in this country right now. You should see the fear in my eyes and feel the pain in my tears as I worry about my children returning to me safely everyday. It’s because of this scholarship and traditional public schools like Banneker, that I know they are in safe learning environments.

I tip my hat to Chancellor Henderson. You did a phenomenal job. Thank you for schools like Banneker. I salute those in the choice movement who are fighting everyday to make sure programs like the OSP and charter schools are protected. I am right there with you.

My children are going to do great things. They have had great educational opportunities. From one parent to another, I am asking, please support the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program and the SOAR Act. They need to be fully funded.

 

Naaborle Sackeyfio

Washington, DC