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Tuberville introduces bill supporting educational access, choice for low-income students

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Friday joined Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in introducing the Children Have Opportunities in Classrooms Everywhere (CHOICE) Act — a bill to allow low-income families with children in grades K-12 to use federal education funds for educational options that best fit their needs.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, was designed to create opportunities for low-income students by providing funding that would increase “quality and equality” in education and is the main source of federal aid for K-12 education.

However, ESEA dollars go through a formulaic maze that siphons off money to bureaucracy and administrative costs, without any consideration for children’s individual needs, parental input and accountability for schools. Decades’ worth of evidence has shown that the ESEA has made little to no progress in improving the academic outcomes or opportunities for the low-income children it is meant to serve.

The CHOICE Act would allow low-income families with students in grades K-12 to apply for federal education funds that they can choose to put towards the public school (including charter schools) in which their children are enrolled, or towards an education savings account, known as a 529 account. Additionally, it would expand the qualified expenses for 529 accounts so that they could go towards private school tuition, virtual learning, tutoring, homeschooling curriculums, therapy services and more.

“I spent the past 40 years traveling to high schools around the country and talking to students about their next steps after graduation,” stated Tuberville. “A four year college is not for everyone, but an opportunity is. The CHOICE Act provides students with an opportunity, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, by giving parents a choice in what educational opportunities and programs will best prepare their student for a life and career after K-12 schooling. By letting parents and students decide what is best for them, our education system is working the way it should be – equipping students with skills to succeed.”

Outside organizations supporting the bill include the American Federation for Children and Heritage Action for America.

“The pandemic illustrated the critical problem with K-12 education in America – putting the interests of the teachers’ unions ahead of individual families and students. Education funding is meant for educating children, not for protecting a particular institution. This bill directly empowers lower income families by funding students, not systems,” said John Schilling, president of the American Federation for Children.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn