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Sen. Cruz, Secretary DeVos, Rep. Byrne Op-Ed in USA Today: America's students deserve freedom to choose their education options

‘We propose that students should be free to learn in ways that work for them, no matter where they pursue their education or how they learn’

February 28, 2019

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202-228-7561

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) today penned an op-ed for USA Today, where they highlighted their Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act. This bill would provide federal tax deductions on donations to state-run educational scholarships, and expand elementary and secondary education, as well as access to apprenticeships and postsecondary workforce education for students and families across the country. 

“We recognize that each student is unique and deserves an education personalized for them,” they wrote. “Scholarships could help students access a whole menu of opportunities, including dual enrollment, special education services, advanced or elective courses not available in their assigned school buildings, transportation to out-of-zone opportunities, among many others. All Americans need to be equipped for successful careers, and vital workforce preparation is in high demand. That’s why students could use scholarships to access career and technical education and apprenticeships, as well.” 

America's students deserve freedom to choose their education options: DeVos, Cruz, Byrne
USA Today
By: Sen. Cruz, Secretary DeVos, Rep. Byrne
February 28, 2019

What should determine the quality of a child’s educational experiences? Her family income? His home address? The luck of the draw? 

Or should every child in America — regardless of those things a student cannot control — have opportunities to learn in places and grow in ways that work best for him or her?

We believe that every student deserves a great education, because we believe that every student has the innate potential to change the world, if given opportunities.

Today, too many young Americans are denied those opportunities. The numbers tell a grave story. We’re 24th in reading, 25th in science and 40th in math when compared with the rest of the world.

That’s not because our students aren’t capable of being No. 1. They are. But our government’s antiquated approach to education limits their ability to achieve their true potential.

A series of administrations on both sides of the aisle have tried to fill in the blank with more money and more control, each time expecting a different result. Just keep trying to fix the same problem the same way over and over again, and then try to tell us you’re not insane.

What’s really missing in education is what makes America great: freedom.

We propose that students should be free to learn in ways that work for them, no matter where they pursue their education or how they learn.

That’s why on Thursday we are putting forward a historic investment in America’s students: the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act.

Education Freedom Scholarships would annually give hundreds of thousands of students across the country opportunities to find the right fit for their education. The program would offer a dollar-for-dollar federal income tax credit for contributions to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships for individual elementary and secondary school students. These scholarships would most benefit America’s forgotten students who would finally have opportunities to pursue the best education for them in ways that rich, powerful and connected families always have.

Every student deserves freedom and options

We recognize that each student is unique and deserves an education personalized for them. Scholarships could help students access a whole menu of opportunities, including dual enrollment, special education services, advanced or elective courses not available in their assigned school buildings, transportation to out-of-zone opportunities, among many others. All Americans need to be equipped for successful careers, and vital workforce preparation is in high demand. That’s why students could use scholarships to access career and technical education and apprenticeships, as well.

The key element of the proposal is freedom for all involved. Eligible students, families, teachers and schools, as determined by their states — all can participate at will and any can elect not to participate if that’s the better choice for them. This is what freedom is all about.

In the State of the Union address, the president called on Congress to “pass school choice for America’s children.” The Education Freedom Scholarships proposal is a powerful way to achieve this goal.

This isn't an attack on public education

The highly paid school union bosses will falsely argue that is an attack on public education. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This program won’t take a single cent from local public-school teachers or public-school students. In fact, some states may choose to use the scholarships to enhance and improve already existing public-school options.

Our proposal only requires one thing: Students and parents must be empowered to make decisions. America’s families — not entrenched special interest groups — should decide how education dollars are spent for their own children.

For our part, we refuse to tell any student trapped in a failing school or one that just isn’t working for them and say, “No, you don’t deserve the chance to go to a different school. We need to preserve the system.”

Because education isn’t about school systems. It is about school children. 

Our country needs students to be freed to pursue the education that will unlock their potential and unleash their creativity so they — and generations after — can achieve unlimited success. And no child should have to wait for another generation of adults to get this right.

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