Schools may have reopened, but the fight for parents to reclaim their children’s education has just begun.
COVID-19 policies unnecessarily locked children out of the classroom and left parents in the dark. This motivated families to find new ways to take ownership of their children’s education. For many, that meant moving their children to charter schools, which saw a 7% increase in enrollment since the beginning of the pandemic. For thousands of others, it meant first-time homeschooling. Rates of homeschooling surged during the pandemic and remained at record highs through 2022.
It’s clear that our education system is at an inflection point. We believe our new bill — the Educational Choice for Children Act — fully meets the moment. Our legislation will empower parents with the ability and means to choose the best education for their children.
Parents have never been so aligned in their desire for greater control over their children’s education. Recent polling shows that 75% of voters — including a vast majority of Republican, Democratic, Black, white and Hispanic Americans — support expanding education options.
After the pandemic shined a light on harmful school policies and rampant ideological rot, it should come as no surprise that parents want buy-in. Minority and low-income parents, in particular, understand the harms caused by failed pandemic policies. Their children disproportionately suffered the consequences of school closures. Data from Harvard University shows that Black and Hispanic students lost an average of six months of learning, 33% more than their white peers.
Parents are making their voices heard from coast to coast, with a wave of school board recalls sweeping the nation. According to one website that tracks school board election results, recall attempts have increased by 350% since 2019. Take San Francisco for example. There, 70% of voters supported the parent-led recall of three school board members who spent a year pushing a political agenda instead of getting children back in classrooms. Or take the parent-led upset victory for Glenn Youngkin in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Parents flocked to support his campaign after his opponent said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Exit polls in that race found that voters said schools were their number one concern.
Our bill offers these families a lifeline. The Educational Choice for Children Act, which we are proud to lead, expands educational freedom and opportunity for millions of students by incentivizing donations to charitable scholarship programs. Any American can contribute to one of countless qualified scholarship granting organizations. In exchange, they receive a dollar-for-dollar credit on their final tab with the IRS. This potential $10 billion injection of funds would release educational supports like tuition, tutoring and school supplies directly to the parents of students who need it most.
Practically, this means the kid whose assigned school is failing to meet his or her needs can now attend an excellent school of their family’s choice. The single mom of a child with disabilities can finally pay for the extracurricular tutoring her school should provide but doesn’t. And the stay-at-home parent who opted to homeschool rather than battle with the local public-school administration over curriculum can afford homeschool activities and top-notch textbooks.
Our bill provides a clear and simple pathway to give parents more control over their children’s education and taxpayers more control over where their money goes. This commonsense approach would allow American individuals and corporations to profoundly impact an estimated 2 million students.
Parents are unified in their desire for more options to help their children learn and thrive. It’s time for Congress to unify and help them by passing our bill into law.
• Sen. Bill Cassidy is an American physician and politician serving as the senior United States senator from Louisiana, a seat he has held since 2015. Sen. Tim Scott is an American politician and businessman who has served as the junior United States senator for South Carolina since 2013.
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