On May 3-4, the American Federation for Children hosted its third annual Policy Summit. Nearly 350 school choice advocates gathered for the two day event in Jersey City, New Jersey, which featured panel discussions and presentations by leading education reformers, researchers, and policy-makers.
The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and the mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, delivered two of the four keynote addresses at the Summit. Despite representing different political parties, both Christie and Booker agreed that implementing school choice initiatives was not a partisan issue but a people issue – one that stands to benefit millions of children across the country. Mayor Booker acknowledged that it would be unfair – and even hypocritical – of him to try to limit parents’ control of their children’s education given his own upbringing. “I cannot ever stand up and stand against a parent having options, because I have benefited from my parents having an option,” Booker said. Governor Christie, who recognized the looming battle over the Opportunity Scholarship Act in the coming months, told supporters, “If you are ready to fight with me, I’m ready to fight with you.”
Also of note, Thursday evening featured the presentation of the John T. Walton Champion for School Choice Award. This year’s recipient was Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett, whose state witnessed the most successful first year voucher program in the country’s history.