Byrne announces details of his Trump-backed school choice bill
Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) joined U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) at a press conference Thursday to announce the details of “historic” school choice legislation that is a key priority of President Donald Trump.
The bill, entitled the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, will be sponsored by Byrne and Cruz in their respective chambers and was developed in consultation with DeVos as the Trump administration’s official school choice plan. It responds to the president’s call for educational freedom in the State of the Union earlier this month and builds upon the Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) model that has already been successful in the Yellowhammer State through the Alabama Accountability Act.
“Every student in America should have the opportunity to receive a high quality education, and we can help accomplish that goal through a new federal tax credit. This model has succeeded at creating opportunity for students in Alabama, and I am hopeful through this legislation we can create similar opportunities for students around the country,” Byrne said.
He added, “I applaud the leadership of President Trump and Secretary DeVos to expand choice and freedom in education, and I am committed to working with them and Senator Cruz to see this legislation across the finish line.”
Excited to work alongside @sentedcruz and @repbyrne on expanding education freedom. All students should have the opportunity to pursue an education that develops their talents, unleashes their unique potential, and prepares them for a successful life. https://t.co/O2BYRmvV3H
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) February 28, 2019
DeVos commented, “Education Freedom Scholarships will make a historic investment in our students and their futures, finally putting the individual needs of students above all else. I want to thank Congressman Byrne for his commitment to education freedom and for his continued leadership in Congress on this important issue.”
You can watch the full press conference below, with Byrne speaking after the 15:00 mark:
The proposal would not rely on any funds currently allocated to public education, nor would it create a new federal education program. Participation would be voluntary for students, schools and states, injecting up to $5 billion yearly into locally controlled scholarship programs that empower students to choose the learning environment and style that best meets their unique needs.
The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act will:
• Create a dollar-for-dollar, non-refundable federal tax credit for contributions from individuals and businesses to state-identified nonprofits called Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs).
• Provide for the granting of scholarships to expand students’ access to a variety of educational opportunities, from advanced or remedial courses to private and home schooling to CTE opportunities.
• Increase opportunity for families to make informed decisions that work for them and their individual needs.
• Allow states to control their SGO programs, not the federal government.
The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act is supported by a variety of stakeholders, including the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education, Agudath Israel of America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, American Association of Christian Schools, Association of Christian Schools International, American Federation for Children, ExcelinEd, Americans for Tax Reform and EdChoice.
I applaud @POTUS and @BetsyDeVosED for their steadfast commitment to increasing educational opportunity for America’s families. @tedcruz, @RepByrne and #edreform allies in Congress can be proud of this bold proposal. https://t.co/hVwdO2gphd
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 28, 2019
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn