This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Senator Patricia Puertas Rucker, a West Virginia state Senator and Chair of the Education Committee. Thanks to her leadership, West Virginia now has the widest, most universal education savings account program in America. Senator Rucker describes the lessons other state legislators across the country can learn from West Virginia’s successful experience. A Venezuelan immigrant, she shares her inspiring story of coming to the U.S., and becoming a state legislator who has led a transformational school choice initiative. She describes how her personal narrative, including her experience homeschooling her five children, some with special needs, drove her later efforts as an elected official to promote wider school choice. She reviews some of the central issues animating parent coalitions that have been prime movers in expanding school choice programs, especially for parents of children with special needs and families of faith.

Stories of the WeekSchool choice offers important alternatives to contentious political debates in K-12 education – but we should refrain from urging parents to abandon all traditional districts, many of which offer high-quality instruction. In New Mexico, a bipartisan group of legislators and parents overwhelmingly support charter public schools, contrary to the divisiveness over charters that exists in many states.