Jennifer Marshall—“Let Them Rise:

Jennifer Marshall “Let Them Rise" - January 2012

By Karen Son

On January 31, 2012, the Political Science Department hosted Jennifer A. Marshall, the Director of Domestic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Her visit to Laie was scheduled as part of a larger statewide speaking tour that also addressed groups in Honolulu, Kona, and Hilo. The speaking tour aimed to educate communities about Heritage Foundation efforts to advance school choice initiatives in Washington DC and U.S. educational policies. While addressing BYU-Hawaii students Tuesday night Marshall introduced a program called, “Let Me Rise: The Struggle for School Choice.” The program was originally produced by The Heritage Foundation to help children of low-income families in Washington D.C. Marshall set the stage for her presentation by explaining that despite large sums of state money dedicated to Washington DC’s educational fund, almost half of students enrolled in D.C. public schools do not finish high school. Many have been threatened with weapons within school zones. Given the dangerous, non-academic environments found at public schools, most children from low-income families in D.C. either fail to get the education they need or attend public schools where they routinely feel physically threatened. The program that Marshall presented to the BYU-Hawaii students arose to mitigate declining educational conditions and improve the educational environment for students in Washington D.C. The program supports the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program passed by Congress in 2004. Using this scholarship program over 1,300 students from low-income families in Washington D.C. have enjoyed the opportunity to enroll in private schools where they receive effective education in a safe academic environment. Without aid from the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program none of the 1,300 students would have been given access to a safe and effective education. Among other things, Marshall’s work with the Heritage Foundation seeks to expand awareness of the scholarship program’s successes and the value of safe educational environments. For students unable to afford private schooling, her program brings hope and empowers dreams. She also chairs the Heritage Foundation’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, which explores the relationships between public policy and religion, family, and community. We at BYU-Hawaii are fortunate to have been visited by such an excellent figure on the Washington DC political stage.

Jennifer Marshall