January 31, 2020
By Jenna Bentley

The story of a Washington, D.C., mother who fought for greater educational opportunity for her son so he could leave a failing school, “Miss Virginia” is an inspiring tale of the difference school choice can make in a student’s—and in a community’s—life. This past Wednesday, during National School Choice Week, the Goldwater Institute and Love Your School hosted a special showing of the “Miss Virginia” film for a packed audience in Phoenix.

Goldwater Institute Director of Government Affairs Jenna Bentley leads a panel discussion featuring Love Your School’s Jenny Clark and American Federation for Children’s Walter Blanks.

Based on a true story, “Miss Virginia” tells the story of Virginia Walden Ford’s fight to give parents all across the financial spectrum more say in their child’s education. Her tireless efforts resulted in the creation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program in 2004, providing scholarships to low-income students and making it possible for them to attend private schools. (You can read a full summary of the movie here.)

After the film screening, the audience listened to a panel discussion featuring Walter Blanks from the American Federation for Children and Jenny Clark from Love Your School, a group that acts as a resource for Arizona families looking for the best educational options for their children. Blanks, originally from Ohio, is one of six children and received a scholarship to attend a private school. In a Goldwater Institute video, Blanks said that “school choice for me was a way out…a way for me to be put in an environment where I could truly succeed.” (Watch the full video below.)

During the panel discussion, Blanks described his interest and passion for sharing his own school choice success story and educating others on the benefits of the program. When asked what he felt the most important takeaway from the movie and the school choice movement as a whole, he replied, “a determined parent is a dangerous parent,” meaning that parents are willing to fight against the odds to get their kids the best educational option to fit their needs.

Walter Blanks discusses the impact of school choice on his own life.

The panel also discussed how school choice covers a wide range of educational options, including charter, private, online, homeschool, and much more. Clark emphasized how she formed Love Your School to promote a positive message that all education options can exist together. “We want to represent all Arizona families and to ensure they know all the education options available for their children,” she told the audience.

If you weren’t able to attend our showing of the film, you can learn how to watch “Miss Virginia” here.

Jenna Bentley is the Director of Government Affairs at the Goldwater Institute.

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