WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), along with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-LA), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), James Lankford (R-OK), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Pat Toomey (R-PA), this week introduced the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act to expand elementary, secondary, and vocational education opportunities for students by providing a federal tax credit to encourage individuals and businesses to donate to nonprofit scholarship funds. U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives.
“Putting children first starts with expanding school choice opportunities,” said Dr. Cassidy. “When families have the freedom to choose where to send their children to school, we empower parents to make the best educational decisions for their children.”
“Every student deserves a quality education—regardless of race, ethnicity, or zip code. This bill incentivizes investment into education and workforce training for students across the country—allowing more Americans to achieve the American Dream. I will continue leading the fight in the Senate to expand opportunity for every American,” said Senator Cruz.
“Every child in America deserves a high-quality education. The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act opens more doors for students, allowing them to pursue an education through private schools, community colleges, or apprenticeship programs they would not otherwise be able to afford. Our bill would improve the education system and create a more properly trained workforce,” said Senator Cramer.
“Our nation’s low-income students cannot be left behind. Encouraging educational choice and maintaining local control of education is critical for families in Tennessee and across the U.S. This bill is an important step to continue the conversation of education freedom, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure a strong path forward for American students,” said Senator Blackburn.
“As a mother, I strongly believe that all children deserve a chance to achieve success – regardless of where they are born and the situations their families face. I’m proud to help re-introduce the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act to help provide more choice to Iowa families, including those in our low-income communities, and support scholarship opportunities for our students. By investing in our students across Iowa and America, we’re investing in a bright and promising future,” said Senator Ernst.
“Every family deserves the opportunity to be a part of a school that meets the needs of their children and empowers their dreams. By incentivizing giving to scholarship funds and investing in career tech and apprenticeship programs, we make school choice a reality for more families regardless of their zip code or income, which builds a more qualified workforce now and for the future,” said Senator Lankford.
“From early learning to higher education, every single student in America deserves access to a high-quality education – regardless of race, income, or zip code. One size does not fit all, and the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act expands common-sense approaches to diverse education opportunities. I’m proud to introduce this important piece of legislation and look forward to working with Senator Cruz to ensure students in Utah’s Fourth District and across the country have a strong foundation for success,” said Rep. Owens.
- Is Optional for States: State participation is optional – an issue important to prevent extending federal control over education.
- State Directed: States maintain the authority to create a program that works for them. States can decide which students are eligible for the scholarship credit, what constitutes eligible educational expenses and eligible educational providers, and more.
- Encourages Workplace Training Education: There is more than one pathway to success, and our rapidly-changing 21st century economy means that workers need new skills to compete. In addition to elementary and secondary education scholarships, this bill allows for scholarships related to career and technical education, apprenticeships, certifications, and other forms of workforce training for postsecondary students.
- Prohibits Federal Control of Education: Clarifies that nothing in this act shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any increased regulation or control over any aspect of a participating educational provider, scholarship granting organization, or workforce training organization. This allows all education providers to be able to participate, without fear of federal control.
- Helps Our Most Vulnerable Students: Many low and middle-income students cannot afford tuition and educational expenses themselves, or do not have the means to pay for the workforce training needed to secure a stable, high-paying job. This tax credit will provide scholarships for these students, so that they can have the opportunity to receive an effective and successful education that prepares them for the future.