Beacon Center announces statewide celebration event for school choice

Staff Reports • Updated Jan 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM

NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee, the state’s leading free market public policy organization, announced Monday plans for a School Choice Now celebration to be held during National School Choice Week on Tuesday at noon at the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Nashville.

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., who inspired a nation handicapped by segregation to overcome the barriers that precluded equality, citizens across the state are calling upon Tennessee legislators to pave the way for academic opportunities open to every child, regardless of class or race.

Leaders and policy-makers from across the state will join with Beacon and other state and national cosponsoring organizations to showcase the overwhelming demand for greater educational freedom in Tennessee.

“We are witnessing a groundswell of support for school choice that’s unprecedented across the state – from Memphis to Nashville, from Knoxville to Chattanooga, we are hearing a resounding plea from parents for our legislators to open the doors to higher quality educational options for their children. On Jan. 28, Beacon Center will stand with these families, who believe as strongly as we do that parents, not zip codes, should dictate the educational opportunities for their children,” said Justin Owen, CEO of the Beacon Center.

Currently, Tennessee children are required to attend public schools zoned for their districts. Unfortunately, this means children living in poverty, divided predominantly upon racial lines, are confined to dangerous, low-performing schools that fail to provide them with the social mobility needed to recognize their dreams.

The hopes of many youth are slipping away, as young people fall prey to drugs and other illicit activities. Yet, some families fortunate to have a choice see the opportunity as a fundamental civil right – one that is essential to achieve true educational equality in Tennessee.

The Beacon Center invites all Tennesseans to attend the Tuesday celebration, which connects families with legislators and leaders from nine different educational policy organizations that comprise the Beacon Center’s coalition project, School Choice Now.

The nine reform organizations participating in Tuesday’s School Choice Now Celebration in Nashville include:

• Agudath Israel of America

• Black Alliance for Educational Options

• Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

• Parent Revolution

• PublicSchoolOptions.org

• StudentsFirst

• Tennessee Charter School Center

• Tennessee Federation for Children

• American Federation for Children

Speakers will include the Rev. Dwight Montgomery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Memphis Chapter; state Rep. John Deberry; Chris Sanders, former Tennessee Titan and currently on the faculty at Montgomery Bell Academy; the
Rev. Dr. Marvin Mercer Sr., president of the Tennessee Baptist Missionary and Education. There are 350 churches with 150,000 congregants under his leadership.

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