Miss Virginia: How One Mom’s Fight Led to Opportunity for Thousands


The words of reproach thundered from the dais of a Congressional hearing room. But rather than shirk back at the rebuke from her congresswoman, Virginia Walden doubled down.

Walden explained that she was done begging and trying to persuade politicians for educational opportunity. “I’m just going to tell you what to do. You will do right by my son. This is America. You cannot—you will not—deny our children their right to learn.”

Last week, parents, students, and education reformers gathered in Philadelphia for the premiere of Miss Virginia, a film about Virginia Walden’s fight to provide her son—and other children—a high-quality education.

Thanks to Walden’s advocacy, over 1,600 DC students are currently able to choose the education that meets their needs through the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Though her son is now grown and thriving, Walden continues to advocate for educational freedom on behalf of other kids across the United States.

Her fight has been successful: a new film bearing her name was officially released today to tell her story and argue her case. Walden attended the Philly premiere, and at the panel discussion afterward, her advice to parents was simple.


Talk to your neighbors who have children. Fight for your children. Talk to your legislators and keep getting stronger. Your voice is stronger than you know. Keep fighting for your children.

Virginia Walden-Ford

While low-income DC kids can thankfully now receive scholarships, too many children lack that same opportunity. Here in Pennsylvania, thousands of low-income students in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere remain waitlisted for charter schools and tax credit scholarships.

Kids need access to high-quality educational options. That’s why Speaker Mike Turzai has proposed scholarships for kids to escape district schools in Harrisburg, a district plagued by violence, poor academic outcomes, and mismanagement.

Just as Virginia Walden’s son needed relief immediately—not eventually—the kids of Harrisburg and beyond deserve the same chance to thrive.