What do researchers at The Heritage Foundation and Miami-born rapper Pitbull have in common? A belief in the power of charter schools.
Pitbull, whose given name is Armando Christian Perez, delivered the opening address at the National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, D.C., last week. Perez has six children, three of whom attend charter schools.
“I believe in the system. I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” the entertainer told the crowd of charter schools advocates at the conference. “Every day I see firsthand how my children are becoming highly motivated thanks to the charter schools they attend.”
Perez is so convinced of the power of charter schools to “revolutionize education in America” that he is providing backing for a new charter school in his old inner-city neighborhood of Little Havana.
Charter schools “are fundamentally about freedom, and freedom is what America is all about,” the rapper proclaimed.
That freedom is something that was missing from Perez’s education. His mother, a Cuban refugee in Miami, struggled to provide her son with a good education, even sometimes lying about their address so that he could attend a better school. “I don’t want anyone in America to have to lie about where they live,” Perez said.
Charter schools are an important component of expanding school choice, especially in minority communities such as Little Havana.
As Heritage’s Israel Ortega writes, “School choice, put simply, is the ability of parents to send their children to schools of their choice. It’s a simple concept, but the reality is that this choice is often limited—particularly among low-income Americans and minority communities.”
The fight for school choice is the fight to ensure that parents everywhere can provide their children with the educational opportunity necessary for success. As Heritage visiting fellow Virginia Walden Ford writes, “Parents are made to feel hopeless and helpless when faced with failing neighborhood schools that their children must attend because they don’t have the resources to either move to a neighborhood with better schools or to pay private school tuition.”
Every child should have access to good schools, regardless of address or family income. We must continue the fight for school choice until educational opportunity for all is a reality.
As for Perez, he is staying in the school choice battle. After his charter school opens in 2014, Perez hopes to build similar charter schools in other cities across the country.
Elizabeth Henry is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.