Sen. Cruz Addresses Texas Charter Schools Conference
‘Charter schools have brought innovation and excellence to communities across the state of Texas’
October 26, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today delivered a video address to the Texas Charter Schools Conference expressing his gratitude for the educational services and opportunities charter schools have brought to Texas. There, he also highlighted his Student Opportunity Amendment, which expanded 529 savings plans to include K-12 elementary and secondary school tuition for public, private, and religious schools.
Excerpts of the Senator’s remarks are below.
“The impact that charter schools make across Texas is massive. Charter schools have brought innovation and excellence to communities across the state of Texas. Particularly in disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and in minority communities, charter schools have expanded the options that are available to kids and parents.
“I believe school choice is the civil rights issue of the twenty-first century. I think every child in Texas -- and every child in America -- deserves access to an excellent education regardless of their race, ethnicity, wealth, or their zip code. It is the most fundamental civil right: getting an education. We know that every other challenge we face in society, whether it is poverty, crime, drug abuse, or health care issues -- if kids get an education, many of those problems largely take care of themselves. They’re much more likely to be able to deal with those problems. If kids don’t get an education, then all of those other challenges are much more likely to present themselves.
“And so, y’all are in the business of transforming lives. You’re in the business of giving people hope and an opportunity for the American dream. My view on education: there are really two principles that drive it.
“Number one, I believe in state and local control. I do not think we should have the federal government dictating what’s taught in the classroom, or dictating the curriculum. I do not think we should be imposing federal standards. Rather we should be reflecting local needs, local values, and it should be as much as possible at the local level reflecting whatever the challenges are in each individual community.
“Secondly, choice. Choice in all of its forms. I think charters have been a tremendous innovation. We’ve seen a lot of benefit from charters in Texas. I’d like to see charters grow. I’d like to see more charter schools. I’d like to see more innovation providing excellent education to kids. And, I believe in school choice in all of its form -- scholarships, tax credits, education savings accounts, charters in public and private -- in everything. I think parents and kids should be empowered with more and more choice and competition.
“I would note: of my time in the Senate, the legislative accomplishment that I’m most proud of -- in the last six years I’ve authored and passed thirty-four different pieces of legislation, but the one I’m most proud of--concerns school choice. It was part of the tax cut that we passed last December. I introduced an amendment to expand 529 College Savings Plans. Now, as you all know, 529 savings plans are tax-advantaged plans that are immensely popular right now. Parents and grandparents can use 529 savings plans to save for college expenses. About 18 million Americans across the country do that right now. My amendment expanded 529 savings plans so you could still use them for college, but now you can use them for K-12 education. You can use them for public school, private school, parochial school, religious school -- your choice. Parents and grandparents can save and spend up to ten-thousand dollars per child per year.
“That amendment was the only amendment that passed on the Senate floor to be added to the tax bill. It is the most far-reaching federal school choice legislation that has ever passed into law -- potentially impacting up to fifty million school kids across the country. I am incredibly grateful to have provided parents with that additional tool.
“Currently, I have pending legislation that I hope will also pass into law that expands 529s even further, in a way that could really impact charter schools. I’d like to see 529s, in addition to being able to use them to pay for tuition, for students to be able to use them for books, for tutoring, and for additional services that could supplement a public school or charter school. As much as possible we ought to be facilitating parents having the maximum choice in terms of educational options for their kids. I’m going to continue pressing for that and I hope that we will get that passed into law as well.
“I want to close that way I started by saying thank you to each of you. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your passion.
“The men and women gathered at this conference are heroes. And, I view it as my job to be your champion. To fight for you and to make it easier for you to accomplish the miracles you are accomplishing in and out of the classroom each and every day. It is an honor to represent you. It is an honor to fight for you. And God Bless each of you.”