Can We Have School Choice Now?

Avery Gagliano is a dedicated and devoted piano prodigy whose talent and hard work have won her the privilege of playing concerts all around the world, as a hand picked “international music ambassador” for the Lang Lang Music Foundation. She is only 13 years old, which makes her achievements all the more impressive.

But as a consequence of her success, and her devotion to becoming an accomplished pianist, Avery missed ten days of school last year. So the D.C. public school system labeled her a truant, and assigned a truancy officer to her case. This despite the fact that in addition to her musical achievements, she was also a straight-A student, despite her parents’ desperate attempts to convince D.C. public school officials that Avery is the very model of a good and successful student–the kind who should serve as a poster child for the Alice Deal Middle School, where Avery went, and despite the fact that officials at the Deal School had and have the power to grant an exception in her case. But because the D.C. public school system will not budge, and because Avery’s parents cannot afford private school tuition, she has to be homeschooled in order to escape being marked as a chronic truant, which means that she cannot socialize with her school friends as she once did.

For those who wonder why people like me are so passionate about supporting school choice policies and demanding that such policies be implemented, consider Avery’s case. Oh, a mention in the Washington Post might cause the officials at Deal to back down . . . eventually. But there are so many other kids and parents out there whose lives are being made miserable by the petty tyrannies of public school officials. And unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of those kids and parents will never be able to attract big media attention to their cases.