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January 29 2020

School Choice Champion "Miss Virginia" on the Big Screen

by Charlotte Hays

Virginia Walden Ford, a school choice champion who has made a difference in the lives of countless kids, has an inspiring story, which is now the subject of a movie called Miss Virginia.

Walden Ford is is a great subject for a film. If it weren’t for Walden Ford, we might never have had the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the first voucher system in the nation. I profiled Walden Ford for IWF last summer.

A review of the movie by Larry Sand indicates that this wonderful woman has been given the positive treatment she deserves. Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba plays Walden Ford. The film is set in 2003.

For those of you who don’t know Miss Virginia’s story, she got involved in the school choice movement because of her son James. James was cutting classes and hanging out with the bad kids. A scholarship from a neighbor that allowed him to go to a different school turned his life around.

From Sand’s review:

The film’s turning point, however, occurs when Virginia discovers that her son’s expensive private school educates children at half the cost per pupil of the money spent by Washington’s public school system. This realization outrages Virginia, and inspires her to attend a town hall meeting, where she watches a staged Q&A session designed to flatter the image of the elected officials. When she receives a prepared softball question, she goes off script and lets them have it.

Her response kicks the film into high gear. After learning about voucher programs in other cities, Virginia resolves to start a similar initiative in Washington. Brimming with righteous anger, she begins speaking at public events and knocking on doors; she even inspires a local gang member to gather signatures. Though she lacks a background in community organizing, her dogged determination to change the system trumps inexperience. In time, she grows from determined advocate to the fiercest of warriors in her battle to win the support of a key congressman, played adeptly by Matthew Modine.

Miss Virginia shuns party politics and avoids stereotypical representations of Republicans and Democrats. The film offers a nonpartisan, empowering message for parents with children stuck in failing schools. All too often, these frustrated parents fight to break down the walls of the public education establishment—a self-serving, monolithic bureaucracy whose primary purpose is its own perpetuation. The film shows that it takes parents working together to step up and demand choice.

I am looking for a chance to see the film, and doing so without trepidation now that Larry Sand indicates that it’s the movie a faithful portrait of a courageous lady. 

 

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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