Issue in Focus
A few weeks ago, parents across the country bundled their kids up and sent them back to school after the holiday break. For some this meant loading them onto a bus that would drop their child off at a nearby private school, walking their child down the street to the local public school, driving them a town over to a charter school, or herding them down into the basement to resume home schooling.
While each of these parents had chosen different ways to educate their children, what they all have in common is the desire for their child to succeed and receive the kind of education that will serve as a cornerstone for success in their lives.
But all too often, parents who have the most skin in our country’s education system get stifled in the federal red tape that surrounds their child’s education. Millions of low-income families find themselves trapped in underperforming schools and are helpless to change their circumstances. Parents are torn at what stage to start investing in their child’s education, because they can’t afford to save for private school tuition and college while still giving them school supplies. Many parents feel like their attempts to give their child a better life come up fruitless.
We can do better. But in order to do so, we have to acknowledge some truths about our education system.
First, increased education funding is not a silver bullet. Since 1970, the federal government has nearly tripled the amount of money it spends on elementary and secondary education, with little improvement to show for it.
Second, Not all schools will be a good fit for all students and parents are most often the best suited to make these decisions.
And third, the federal regulations currently in place inhibit parents from choosing and investing in their children’s education.
This is why I introduced the Enhancing Educational Opportunities for all Students Act this week. This bill would allow parents back in to their child’s education by giving them flexibility in how to finance it. This flexibility means schools that parents could otherwise not afford could now be an option.
This bill would allow parents to use federal education Title I dollars as they saw fit. That could mean the public school in the child’s neighborhood, another public school across town, or even a private school of the parent’s choosing.
The bill also removes the tax burden that comes when parents invest more than $2,000 a year in a child’s Education Savings account. That means parents can save and build more resources that can then be spent on tuition, books, other school supplies, or even college.
By empowering parents and giving them this flexibility, we are taking an important step to improve the future of this country. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Above all things, I hope the education of the common people will be attended to, [as] on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.” We can secure that liberty for tomorrow by giving it to parents today.