Our leaders are wrong to not support the Opportunity Scholarship Program in D.C.

By: Naaborle Sackeyfio

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 Brooklyn 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 every day 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 kiss my children every morning as they go to their respective schools because again, it’s my parental 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 every day. 

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.

Naa Borle Sackeyfio is a Human Development graduate of the University of the District of Columbia.  She has worked as a lead teacher at a number of child development centers in the Washington DC area.  She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Early Childhood Education. In between academic pursuits, she is raising five wonderful children. They all attend some the best schools in the Washington DC area