News Release: Audio from Educational Choice Speaker Series Now Available Online

Published July 1, 2006

(Chicago, Illinois – June 29, 2006) The Illinois School Choice Initiative, a project of The Heartland Institute, has announced that audio recordings from its 2006 Educational Choice Speaker Series are now available online.

Since January, ISCI has hosted a monthly luncheon at the Metropolitan Club of Chicago, where business and civic leaders and school choice supporters have heard from some of the movement’s most important leaders, including Robert Enlow of the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation (June) and Rebeca Nieves-Huffman of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (May).

The audio recordings can be listened to online or downloaded to an iPod or MP3 player by subscribing to the Educational Choice Speaker Series Podcast. Visit Heartland’s blog ( and click on the Educational Choice Speaker Series icon in the right column, or go to

The following presentations are now available:

January: George Clowes, The Heartland Institute
On January 19, Clowes kicked off the new monthly Educational Choice Speaker Series with a talk titled, “Competition as an Effective Education Reform: What Works and What’s Ahead.” Clowes noted that while competition among providers of goods and services is an accepted feature in most sectors of the U.S. economy, there is little competition among providers of K-12 education, a sector with annual revenues in excess of $500 billion. However, recognizing other education reform efforts have yielded scant success at high cost, an increasing number of states have taken steps to begin the process of deregulating their K-12 education delivery systems to permit the creation of new types of schools–such as voucher, charter, and contract schools–and to help defray the cost of private schools with tax credit programs.

February: Ken Johnson, Milwaukee Public Schools
On February 16, Kenneth L. Johnson, Milwaukee School Board president, spoke at the Illinois School Choice Initiative’s second monthly Educational Choice Speaker Series luncheon. In a speech addressing “Milwaukee Public School Reform: Rethinking of Parents as Our Customers,” Johnson explained that school choice presented an opportunity for the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system to change. MPS did not die. Public schools remain the primary educators of children in the urban school district, with the independent and religiously affiliated private schools existing alongside them. Milwaukee learned the schools can work together.

March: Virginia Gentles, Florida Department of Education
On March 16, Virginia Gentles, executive director of the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, described the many school choice programs available to parents in the Sunshine State, how those programs have affected K-12 education in Florida, and how more choice would benefit students and parents in Illinois.

April: Lawrence Patrick, BAEO
On April 20, Lawrence Patrick III addressed the need for educational choice for black parents and students. Described as a visionary leader, Patrick is a leading voice in the movement to increase educational options for black children. He is a co-founding member of BAEO, the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

May: Rebeca Nieves-Huffman
On May 18, Rebeca Nieves Huffman’s speech, “And How Are the Children,” addressed the education crisis and how it affects Hispanic children. Noted by Hispanic Magazine as a “Top Latina Leader in Education,” Huffman is president and CEO of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (Hispanic CREO). She leads national efforts to improve the educational outcomes for Hispanic children by empowering families through parental choice in education.

June: Robert Enlow, Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation
On June 15 Robert Enlow, executive director of the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation, gave an overview of the school choice movement, assessing the strength of the movement. Enlow joined the Friedman Foundation in 1996 as fundraiser and projects coordinator. In 1999, he was promoted to vice president, programs and public relations, where his responsibilities included program management and development and media relations. In December 2003, he was named executive director, overseeing development, program and communications activities.

For more information about the Illinois School Choice Initiative and its monthly Educational Choice Speaker Series, contact Executive Director Phylicia Lyons at 312/377-4000, email [email protected].