News and Commentary

PragerU Video: School Choice Saved My Life

Giving parents the ability to choose which schools their children attend can turn lives around. Just ask Denisha Merriweather, whose life was transformed thanks to the opportunity to attend private school through a voucher program.

Merriweather explains in PragerU’s latest video that she “was often confused and frustrated” during her time in public school, frequently struggling with the course material. When she asked her teachers for help, they were unable or unwilling to give her much guidance. Eventually, she “stopped asking questions.”

“I stopped asking questions and I withdrew into myself,” said Merriweather. “I failed third grade — twice. Fourth and fifth weren’t much better. I lashed out by getting into fights with my classmates. D’s and F’s filled my report card. I was going nowhere. I was just another black kid in the warehouse.”

The trajectory of Merriweather’s life was radically altered when she began living with her godmother, who sent her to a private school thanks to a school voucher program. At the private school, Espirit de Corps Center for Learning, her teachers were able to figure out a way to make the material understandable for her.

“Instead of dreading my classes, I began to look forward to them,” said Merriweather. “Instead of fistfights, I began doing community service work. I even earned the National Police Athletic League’s Girl of the Year award in 2009.”

Merriweather ended up being the first in her family to graduate high school; she would go on to be the first in her family to graduate college with a Master’s degree.

“Without school choice, none of this would have been possible,” Merriweather said. “Why is it so hard to grasp? Why are so many people so resistant to children and parents having a choice of schools? The system, especially for economically disadvantaged kids, is broken.”

Those who are against school choice argue that it diverts money “from students who need it the most”; however, the answer isn’t more money, it’s more competition.

“Prosperous parents can choose where to send their kids to school – public, private, or charter –wherever they have the best chance to succeed,” said Merriweather. “Why shouldn’t all parents have that choice? We have the money to make it happen. We just need the will.”

Watch the full video below:

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