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Hearing Recap: School Choice Edition

Today’s Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee hearing, chaired by Rep. Aaron Bean (R-FL), covered school choice and the educational freedom movement sweeping the nation. Parents are eager for more choice because it empowers them to match educational options to their child’s unique needs. 

The hearing was split into two panels, the first featuring testimony from congressmembers offering creative legislative solutions to failing school systems and the second featuring testimony from outside experts.

In the first panel, Republican witnesses Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) outlined innovative proposals to give parents more choice.

Specifically, Rep. Smith detailed his Educational Choice for Children Act (ECCA), which provides $10 billion in tax credits to help American families pay for school tuition, tutoring, and supplies.

Speaking on the elements of his proposal, Rep. Smith said the ECCA would “provide deserving students of all backgrounds with more options to fund their education needs, something we should all be able to agree on. It is important to note this measure leaves in place all existing public education resources.”

Congressman Smith is right. Students should have options to find the educational resources that best meet their needs.

On the second panel, expert witnesses began by connecting the growing surge of support for school choice to the generational learning loss resulting from the pandemic. Now more than ever, parents recognize the need for flexibility in their child’s education.

Republican-invited witness Lindsey Burke, Director of the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation, presented the jarring empirical evidence behind learning loss, including a decline in reading and math setting children back two decades.

The testimony of the Honorable Luke Messer, former Indiana congressman, echoed the need for parental empowerment. His opening statement drew on the Committee’s recent success passing the Parents Bill of Rights Act and connected it to this hearing’s topic of school choice: “No doubt, the Parents Bill of Rights will bring more transparency into our public school system. But importantly, school choice is the engine that makes the Parents Bill of Rights enforceable.”

The hearing proceeded to the Q&A session. In a particularly telling exchange between Democrat-invited witness Derek Black, Director of the Constitutional Law Center at the University of South Carolina, and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Black revealed how Democrats don’t always trust parents and families.

“The further children get away from public schools the less we have the capacity to protect them,” said Black. Who exactly do children need protection from? Parents? We know one thing - the Democrat agenda is clear. They want government bureaucrats in control of your child’s education.

A final exchange between Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI) and the Honorable Luke Messer cut through the partisan distractions in the conversation. “The goal today is about the student,” exclaimed Rep. McClain. “Just checking. Ok.” 
“We live in America today where we agree on almost nothing,” concluded Messer. “But, we all agree on school choice. Poll after poll. Ninety percent, 80%, 70% of Americans support school choice.”

Bottom Line: Committee Republicans are fighting for educational freedom for all.
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