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One family, two generations of education choice

Alicia Davis, left, and her wife, Kaitlin Davis, help their 9-year-old twins, Brian and Leah, with their homework. Like Alicia and Kaitlin did when they were students, Brian and Leah are benefiting from education choice options available to Florida families. ~Ron Matus

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Alicia Davis needed a fresh start after a storm of challenges – including being a teen mom – overwhelmed her in high school. Kaitlin Davis needed a safe place after kids in her assigned middle school tormented her over her sexual identity.

They are adults now, happy, married, and raising a family. For their 9-year-old twins, Brian and Leah, who endured bullying in kindergarten, the Davises turned almost instinctively to the kind of education choice options that are available to parents in one of the most choice-rich states in America. They found a private school, courtesy of a state scholarship, that knew how to navigate their children’s “disabilities” while also understanding their pain.

When you have options, “You don’t have to sacrifice being emotionally okay to have a good education. You don’t have to sacrifice a good education to be emotionally okay,” said Kaitlin, now 23. “You can have both.”

(Watch the video at the end of this post to hear Alicia and Kaitlin tell their story in their own words.)

Kaitlin and Alicia, 25, have been together five years. They married last year. Kaitlin is a collision adviser at a Toyota dealership. Alicia stays at home so she can best care for their 5-year-old, Emmett, who has diabetes. Kaitlin is pregnant with their fourth child. Their cozy house in a working-class neighborhood is 20 minutes from the school they consider a lifeline.

The Davis’s experience with public education is fast becoming the new normal in Florida. A generation ago, about 10 percent of K-12 students in Florida attended something other than assigned district schools. Today it’s more than 40 percent.

“Multiple choice” families with children enrolled in two or more options are not hard to find. It won’t be long before the same is true of families like the Davises.

Read more at redefinED

Story by Ron Matus

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