Tuesday | January 27, 2015

Senator Tim Scott To Introduce CHOICE Act to Expand Educational Opportunities

Washington - During his keynote address this morning at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), U.S. Senator Scott (R-SC) announced the introduction of his Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act, part of his Opportunity Agenda. With the CHOICE Act, Senator Scott, a leading voice for school choice in the Senate, looks to expand educational opportunities for children with disabilities, children living on military bases, and children living in low-income communities.
"Access to a quality education empowers individuals, changes families and strengthens communities. I have seen firsthand in my own life how powerful education is, not just for the individual, but for all those connected to that student. Today, however, not all of our children, through no fault of their own, have access to a quality education that allows them to reach their full God-given potential. I believe that it is critical that we work together to provide every child with a good education and not get caught up in the politics. We can do that by providing parents and students greater choice when it comes to their education. My CHOICE Act will do that by expanding educational opportunities for children with disabilities, who live on military bases, or are in low-income communities."
If enacted, the CHOICE Act will:
Ensure Children with Disabilities Get Educational Options Best Suited for Them
  • Encourage states to establish school choice programs for students with disabilities by providing startup funds to support the design and initial implementation of a disability choice program.
  • Enable states that already run disability school choice programs to expand educational options for children with special needs with federal dollars.
Provide More Choices to Military Families As They Serve Their Country
  • Create a pilot program under the Department of Defense on at least 5 bases without DoD Education Activity schools to provide scholarships to students in military families on base of up to $8,000 for elementary and $12,000 for high school.
Expand Educational Options for Low-Income Families in Washington, DC
  • Expand the successful DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which has served more than 6,000 low-income children in Washington, DC, by requiring excess carry-over funds that are not needed for the continuation of current participants' scholarships be used to increase promotion and outreach and support more scholarships.
  • Ensure children currently enrolled in private schools who meet all of the DC OSP eligibility requirements are not unnecessarily excluded from participation.
Senator Scott added, "I would like to thank Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ),Orrin Hatch(R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) for cosponsoring the CHOICE Act and working with me on this important issue. I also look forward to working with my House counterpart, Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN), the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, to move this important piece of legislation through Congress and see its passage. I believe it is an important step towards making sure even more children, regardless of their family income, socio-economic status or background have greater access to a quality education."
Organizations, including the American Enterprise Institute, Association of Christian Schools International, Orthodox Union, Heritage Action, American Association of Christian Schools, Lexington Institute, PublicSchoolOptions.org and Palmetto Policy Forum in South Carolina stand in support of the legislation.
In supporting the CHOICE Act reintroduction, Dr. Frederick M. Hess, director of educational policy studies at AEI, noted, "Senator Scott's CHOICE Act is a sensible way for the federal government to make its investments in K-12 schooling more responsive to what families need. These are measured proposals that will help more students find better schools, while respecting the limited nature of the federal role. This is the kind of legislation that signals to American families that the government is pursuing workable solutions to real problems."
Enacting greater school choice options for all students will be a central focus during Senator Scott's "Choosing Excellence" school choice forum to be held on February 9 featuring Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Congressman Luke Messer (R-IN), former U.S.Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Capitol Preparatory Founder and CEO Steve Perry, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice President and CEO Robert Enlow and others. More information, including how to RSVP, can be found here.
Related Issues:  EducationCHOICE ActOpportunity Agenda