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Supporting School Choice Year-Round

January 22 marked the start of National School Choice Week – a week to celebrate education options for all students. School choice is an important principle that has received bipartisan support in Washington for years. For children who are trapped in under-performing public schools, the opportunity to attend a better school can open doors to new opportunities not only in education, but also in the workforce.

In 2004, Congress approved the groundbreaking D.C. School Choice Incentive Act. The law established the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), a federal initiative that continues to offer hope and opportunities to parents who wish to send their children to private schools. The program provides low-income students who reside in the nation’s capital a scholarship to attend the school of their choice.

According to House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN), school choice programs like D.C. OSP have “engaged parents, motivated children, and helped the dream of a diploma become a reality.” The program has successfully increased graduation rates to more than 90 percent for students previously enrolled in low-performing schools. In 2011, House Republicans led the charge to keep this program available to students and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

Another important vehicle for school choice is charter schools. High-performing charter schools provide families a lifeline to escape under-performing public schools. Unfortunately, more than 400,000 children are currently on charter school wait lists. In an effort to encourage the development of more of these schools, House Republicans championed the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last September with strong bipartisan support.

School choice is more than just creating scholarships and new charters - ensuring parents have access to valuable information about the quality of local schools is a key component. Republicans on the House Education and the Workforce Committee recently released two draft proposals that help parents and communities access more relevant data about the performance of local schools, students, and teachers. The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act will also support opportunities for parents to enroll their children in local magnet schools, help school districts fund supplemental tutoring programs, and enhance parental engagement.

National School Choice Week may only be recognized once annually, but House Republicans support its goals year-round. Every parent deserves the opportunity to choose what is best for their child’s education. House Republicans will continue working to improve K-12 education and help support a brighter future for children nationwide.

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