Students Deserve the Opportunity to Succeed

School Choice Week

Matthew, a former high school dropout from Chicago, and Ryan, an autistic student from a rural town, have something in common.

Their public schools were not working for them.

Several years ago, Matthew Rainey dropped out of high school.

In doing so, Matthew became one of the many casualties of Chicago Public Schools, or CPS – a system in which four out of 10 kids never graduate. But Matthew longed for a second chance.

He received that chance after hearing an ad for a free market-based charter school called Youth Connection Charter School Virtual High School, or YCCS, powered by K12.YCCS is one of Chicago’s oldest charter schools, operating 22 campuses across the city, and is the only charter school authorized by CPS to serve high-risk and at-risk students.

YCCS, one of the 22 campus sites, prides itself on accommodating students’ individual needs by matching their educational level upon matriculation with a uniquely tailored, innovative learning environment.

“[Students are] not just sitting passively in a classroom here,” said Tamara Carpenter, K12 vice president of school development. “They’re actively engaged in moving themselves forward in their goals.”

This environment suited Matthew, who said he never quite fit the set curriculum CPS offers.

“Here you have more of a personal connection,” he said. “At Chicago Public Schools I felt like ID number 43618884. Here I feel like Matthew Austin Rainey.”

Matthew Rainey

Matthew recently graduated from YCCS at the top of his class and was accepted to the University of Illinois, where he plans to pursue a degree in business. And Matthew is just one success story of the free market model.

Ryan Fox is an incredibly bright 17-year-old student from Washington, and he is among the many autistic students whose learning needs were not being met by the one-size-fits-all public school. He was so frustrated trying to learn by sitting in a regular classroom.

It wasn’t that Ryan couldn’t learn, it’s just that he learns differently. He was finally able to make a breakthrough in his education through online learning.

“I love online learning, it has changed my life. I really believe that in the future, everyone will learn this way. We will all be able to learn from the very smartest people on earth, and we’ll do it at our own pace every day. Our abilities will matter more than our disabilities.”

Ryan Fox

Watch Ryan’s story:

Any parent or teacher will tell you that every child is different, so why does our education system not reflect this? Education should not be determined by the federal government, state officials, or the  neighborhood where a child lives.

We can speak out and change the system. States like Louisiana and Arizona have already changed their education systems and allowed charter schools and education savings accounts for parents. For more about school choice options, check out this guide.

Today marks the last day of National School Choice Week, a time when people around the country from all different backgrounds and political persuasions ban together to demand more choices for students like Matthew and Ryan. Will you join students, parents, teachers, Democrats, and Republicans in speaking up for school choice?