Sen. Cruz Reintroduces the Educational Freedom Accounts Act
Bill would create District-wide Educational Savings Accounts to help provide school choice programs to students and improve schools
November 28, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today reintroduced The Educational Freedom Accounts Act (EFAA), which creates a unique educational choice program in Washington, D.C. that empowers parents and provides opportunity to every public school student in the nation's capital, including those enrolled in public charter schools. This bill is an important step forward in empowering parents and advancing the next generation of students, as Washington, D.C. schools fall under the jurisdiction of Congress.
"The Educational Freedom Accounts Act is critical for students in the D.C. area," said Sen. Cruz. "Washington, D.C. has one of the highest per-pupil spending rates in the nation, but schools continue to underperform and underserve the next generation. This has resulted in a high demand for school choice programs, but that need is not being met. Not only will the EFAA help students, it will also help improve schools to ensure that every child has the opportunity to achieve their dreams, regardless of race, class, or zip code."
In 2016, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program could only accept only 234 out of 2,349 new student applicants, and as of 2017 the District has 23,448 students on waitlists at any PK-12 public charter school across the city. The EFAA will help enable higher student enrollment into programs as it makes all students in the district eligible for Educational Savings Accounts and the accounts will be flexible for each student to use as needed.
There are several provisions included in the EFAA, including:
• Flexible savings accounts for students, which allow for a customized education. Funds may be applied in a variety of ways, including toward private school tuition, tutoring services, textbooks, online classes, fees for placement tests, disability services, transportation costs, and more.
• The act allows all students in D.C. to be eligible for an ESA.
• The act holds ESA users accountable as the funds are distributed by providers on behalf of the student, preventing fraud and providing efficiency.
• The act allows families to seek review of any rulings of fraud through an appeals process.
• The act will also help families better plan for the future by allowing funds that are not used each year to rollover for the following year, helping students save for high school or college.
• The savings accounts will be adjusted for family income and disability status, allowing students with greater need to receive higher percentages in their accounts.
In his fight to provide quality education, Sen. Cruz has long led efforts to increase the availability of school choice programs:
• In May of 2013, 2015 and April of 2016, Sen. Cruz cosponsored a resolution creating "National Charter Schools Week," which congratulates charter schools, students, families, teachers, and administrators.
• In January of 2014, 2015, and 2017, Sen. Cruz cosponsored Sen. Tim Scott's (R- S.C.) School CHOICE Act, which expanded D.C. students' opportunities to enroll in school choice programs.
• In May of 2014, Sen. Cruz cosponsored the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, which improved and expanded Charter School education.
• In January of 2015, Sen. Cruz joined as a lead cosponsor of the Messer-Lee-Cruz bill. The Enhancing Educational Opportunities Act made quality K-12 education more affordable, particularly for low-income families.
• In January of 2015 and 2016, Sen. Cruz cosponsored Sen. Tim Scott's (R-S.C.) resolution designating a "National School Choice Week."
• In January of 2015, Sen. Cruz cosponsored Local Control of Education Act, which limited the government's direct and indirect mandates and control of local educational agencies.
• In January of 2015, Sen. Cruz cosponsored Local Leadership in Education Act, which amended the General Educational Provisions Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as limited the government's control of local educational agencies.
• In November of 2015 and 2017, Sen. Cruz cosponsored a bill to amend the Head Start Act to authorize block grants to states for pre-kindergarten education.
• In March of 2015, Sen. Cruz cosponsored Higher Education Reform Opportunity Act of 2015, which amended education eligibility requirements.
• In January of 2016, Sen. Cruz introduced the Educational Freedom Accounts Act, which created educational choice program in D.C. for every public school student.
• In January of 2017, Sen. Cruz cosponsored a bill to allow a state to submit a declaration of intent to the Secretary of Education to combine certain funds to improve the academic achievement of students.