Indy Mom Schools Franken on School Choice

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L-R: Cheryl Kirk; Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

You basically took it upon yourself to condemn Indiana’s school choice program on a national stage. But I live in Indiana. I’m a mom. And I’ve exercised school choice in Indiana. And I must say, you got a lot wrong, Senator. You should really speak to your staff about that. ~ Cheryl Kirk

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – An Indiana mom has taken to the web to address Minnesota Senator Al Franken’s (D) erroneous statements regarding the Indiana school choice during the Senate confirmation hearings for Dept. of Ed Secretary Betsy Devos.

Cheryl Kirk, is a nurse as well as a writer with the Indy/Ed blog.  She and her husband have three children and live in Indianapolis, Indiana.  According to Kirk’s blog bio, her three children attend private school on vouchers – something that she faced many obstacles in order to achieve for her children.  Kirk explains in the article that they are a “choice family,” but not anti-public school.  They have used vouchers and are grateful for the opportunity to have their children educated at high quality Christian schools.  She acknowledges that improvements have come to the Indianapolis Public Schools, but that those improvements were too late for her kids.

In a post titled, “Dear Senator Franken, This isn’t #SNL, this is my life,” Kirk questions Franken about his statements regarding the Indiana school choice program when he said, “Basically what was happening is we were taking money from poor kids needing resources and giving it to middle class kids to continue going to religious school.”  

Kirk’s response to Franken’s statements comes from her experiences fighting to get her kids out of Indiana’s failing public schools.  In the post, Kirk questions Franken’s sincerity in his statements as either misunderstanding how school funding works or that he purposefully chose to mislead the public.  She also explains why school choice came to Indiana:  the under-education of generations of Indiana’s minority and poor children due to failing schools.  

Kirk then asks:

Would you, Mr. Franken, put your child in a school with a D or F rating? Would you expect your friends or Senate colleagues to put their children in a school with a D or F rating?
We all know the answer, sir, because your children attended a school that costs more than $40,000 per year, a school known for educating celebrities and the children of royalty. Literally, people who wear crowns on their heads.

Kirk goes on to explain that the people of Indiana paid taxes into failing school system while crime and incarceration rates increased.  She asks Franken, “how in the world have you and those before you been willing and able to sit by while black and brown and poor children have been trapped in underperforming schools? Whether in your state of Minnesota or my state of Indiana, there is an injustice right before your eyes that you are ignoring. I assume you realize that the fancy Dalton School you are used to isn’t really what school is like for regular Americans like me. I certainly hope you realize that.”

Kirk ends the post asking Franken to stop lecturing the people about why he is against school choice and instead to find solutions to the inadequacies of America’s public schools.  

Despite opposition from Al Franken and his fellow Democrats, Betsy Devos was confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Education on Tuesday .

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Andrea Mayer-Bruestle, a life-long Midwesterner, has been writing/blogging since 2008​. She also serves as the chair of South Washington Citizens for Progress; a committee formed to hold South Washington County School District ISD 833 accountable to taxpayers. She created MNHockeyMama blog, which captured national media attention in 2013. Andrea has made appearances on conservative talk radio shows, and political gatherings - Tea Party and local BPOU. Her knowledge and research skills have helped guide legislators and political activists across the state.