School choice helped this girl escape a broken school, then become valedictorian

By Virginia Walden Ford | The Daily Signal

The right to choose where your kids attend school should be common sense. But for too long, it’s something too many parents have been denied for their children.

Thankfully, we live in a day when access to education choice is gaining ground. More kids across our country are now being freed from broken schools and have the chance to select schools that meet their needs, setting them on a course to achieve their own dreams.

National School Choice Week is the world’s largest nonpartisan celebration of opportunity in education. This year it runs from Jan. 21-27, and includes thousands of independently planned events across the country that raise awareness of K-12 education options available to children and families centered on school choice.

That is progress worth celebrating, and it’s why I am celebrating National School Choice Week. To have played a part in fighting for school choice has been a true privilege.

As an advocate for school choice, I’ve followed many families whose children found success. One of the students I’ve stayed close to is Tiffany Dunston.

I first met Tiffany and her grandmother when they attended an information session about a scholarship that would allow Tiffany to attend a better school that would nurture her. I remember chatting with a mature 13-year-old girl whose eyes sparkled as she talked about doing well in school and making her family proud.

Immediately, I knew that the future would be bright for this young girl.

That hope of a scholarship turned into a reality for Tiffany in 2004. Congress had approved the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, providing scholarships to children from low-income families (like Tiffany), which enabled them to attend a private school of choice.

I saw Tiffany again that year and learned that she had received a scholarship through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and was enrolled at Archbishop Carroll High School.

Tiffany had grown into a lovely young woman who was thriving as a freshman at Carroll. I was delighted to see her and so many other students excelling who had benefited from the same scholarship option.

Tiffany went on to graduate as valedictorian from Carroll in 2008, and received a scholarship to Syracuse University. I prayed that this young woman would do well and accomplish her dreams there. And she did.

Not only did she thrive at Syracuse, but after receiving her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, she was accepted into a doctoral program. Tiffany received her doctorate in chemistry one year ago and is now working at Johns Hopkins University as a post-doctoral research fellow in oncology.

Tiffany’s journey has not only brought joy to my heart—it has made the hard work of fighting for school choice worth every second. And there are countless other children like Tiffany who stand to benefit from expanding school choice across our nation.

National School Choice Week is a time for us to rejoice over stories like Tiffany’s, and also look forward to a day when every child in America will have the doors of education opened wide to them. Our movement is winning. Let’s keep winning more.

Virginia Walden Ford is a national board member and a founding member of The Black Alliance for Educational Options, Inc. She also serves on the D.C. Advisory Committee of the US Civil Rights Commission, and serves as executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, Inc. which she founded in 1998.

Image courtesy of

2 thoughts on “School choice helped this girl escape a broken school, then become valedictorian

  1. The benefits of School Choice are undeniable. But Vermonters have to lobby their friends and neighbors to, finally, elect legislators and school board directors who represent them, not the education monopoly special interst groups.

    • You’re exactly right Jay. The Vermont democrat party is crawling with teachers union puppets. In fact the head of the Vermont democrats is a big union representative, the number 2 man on the Vermont board of education serves two masters, he makes education regulation and policy in Vermont while at the same time he serves as the “managing director” of the Colorado based, TEACHERS UNION FUNDED, national education policy center. Sharpe, Zuckerman and company vote in favor of things the union wants, I guess they like the promised votes and campaign contributions. I hope the ethics commission will look into these corrupt arrangements.

Comments are closed.