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Kline Statement: Debate on H.R. 4901, the SOAR Reauthorization Act

I rise today in strong support of the SOAR Reauthorization Act, which will renew our vital investment in the children who live in the District of Columbia.

In passing the Every Student Succeeds Act last year, we took important steps to support and encourage greater school choice for students and their families. These reforms empower parents to do what’s best for their child’s education, and help ensure that all children are able to receive the excellent education they deserve—regardless of their family’s background, income, or zip code.
 
Helping students escape failing schools so they can pursue a brighter future is an important priority, and that’s exactly what the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program does for children in our nation’s capital.
 
For more than 10 years, the program has enabled thousands of students to pursue the quality education necessary to excel both in the classroom and later in life. And excel they do. In fact, last year, 90 percent of 12th graders who received a scholarship through the program graduated from high school, and nearly 90 percent of those students went on to pursue a college degree.
 
These are impressive results that speak volumes about the importance of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. They’re also a big reason this program has long enjoyed bipartisan support. Sure, there are critics who argue these vulnerable children shouldn’t have the opportunity to pursue a better education. But, fortunately, a strong majority in Congress remains committed to supporting this program. This bill will renew that commitment to the students and families the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program serves.
 
The legislation also authorizes support for D.C. public schools and will provide critical resources for D.C. public charter schools. In my home state of Minnesota—the birthplace of charter schools—we have seen the many benefits of providing parents an alternative public school option that better meets their child’s needs. The bill will help the District of Columbia continue to do the same for its students.
 
Together, these measures will make a positive impact in the lives of students across the District and create much-needed education opportunities for children who might not otherwise have them. I’d say that is a very worthwhile investment. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.

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