Life wasn’t very easy on my single father, my younger brother and me as we grew up in government housing in Pottsville, PA. I took it upon myself to help raise my younger brother. I would help him with his homework, get in fights with bullies on his behalf, and by the time I was a teenager, I was coaching his baseball and basketball teams. I took great pride in my ability to help him forge a better future for himself. In fact, I was more proud of his acceptance into the United States Military Academy than I was of my own.
Four years later, I found myself serving as an Army Lieutenant in Kosovo. Amidst the debris of abandoned buildings, bombed out Mosques and burnt vehicle skeletons were children that laughed and played like the children back home. Those Kosovar kids, with shoes that were falling apart and clothes that were often a couple sizes too small, made me realize how relatively easy we had it growing up. I knew I couldn’t help them get into highly selective colleges like I did for my brother, just as I couldn’t help them overcome a broken economy and the aftermath of war. But I could help clothe them in the dead of the winter. With the help of people in the United States who answered my call for donations, and a half dozen dedicated volunteers from my unit, I was able to deliver 10,000 pounds of clothing and shoes to over 3,000 Kosovar children.
Since Kosovo, I have coached a high school football team in Germany, worked at a Bulgarian orphanage, mentored two kids in California, sat on a child bereavement non-profit board in New York and led all outreach efforts in New York City for the West Point Admissions Office. While I loved trying to alter the trajectory of the lives of the children I worked with, I was frustrated I couldn’t do more. I wanted to improve the lives of millions, not dozens.
Seeing education as the way to lift up the greatest number of children, I dove into the education reform movement, and became an advocate for school vouchers and charter schools. Professionally, I left investment banking and launched a micro-cap private equity fund to look for charter management organizations (charter school operating companies) to buy. As I got deeper into my education research, I began to realize that the education reform measures on the table would do little more than nudge the needle a little bit in the favor of children; not a great realization for someone who wanted to improve the lives of millions. I eventually underwent a political and philosophical awakening that allowed me to realize the folly in trying to use the government to solve the ills of our society.
My research on the various learning styles of children in conjunction with the realization that monopolistic government organizations consistently fail to deliver high quality services led me to conclusion that most kids were greatly harmed by traditional schooling and that homeschooling could help untap the suppressed potential of a generation of children. I subsequently shuttered my private equity firm so that I could dedicate my professional career to advancing homeschooling as a viable education alternative for the masses, with the goal of migrating at least 10 million children out of public education over the next decade.