I get a lot of resistance for my efforts broadly in education reform and, very specifically, for my work on and deep belief in school choice. According to the criticism I am part pariah, part pushover. A mix of equal measures shill and destroyer. The owners of these opinions, until the Gray tragedy, would likely not have been able to find Penn North on a map.
But it’s exactly because you grow up in Sandtown that you know the value of an excellent school which you get to attend regardless of who your parents are, how much money they make, or where you live. While watching students of Frederick Douglass High School throw rocks at police across the Gwynns Falls Parkway, all I could remember was my first trip to that school. I arrived as a visitor and an athlete—not a student—at what would have been my zoned public school. There was glass in the grass of the end zone; I was the only one of my classmates who knew to look for it.
It’s precisely because your grandma, Daisy, was pissed about redlining all those years ago that you understand school segregation and how deliberate and purposeful its effects and reemergence have been.
And it is absolutely because you know that, but for the right school, and the shining fingertip of providence, you are Freddie Gray. In a world of infinite timetables for school improvement that are rarely if ever reached, choice is the most powerful way to create new worlds of possible for kids who are destined to have so little possible for themselves.