January 26, 2023

Cassidy, Smith, Colleagues Introduce Bicameral Bill to Expand School Choice and Educational Opportunity

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE-03) introduced the Educational Choice for Children Act, bicameral legislation to expand education freedom and opportunity for students. Specifically, it provides a charitable donation incentive for individuals and businesses to fund scholarship awards for students to cover expenses related to K-12 public and private education.

“Parents deserve the right to make the best educational decision for their child, regardless of income,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Our bill empowers families to pick the school that best fits their children’s needs.”

“This National School Choice Week, the House and Senate have renewed our commitment to parental empowerment and education freedom with this bill,” said Representative Smith. “Parents – not government – should always have the final say in what kind of education their child receives, no matter where they live or their socioeconomic status. The late Rep. Jackie Walorski fought tirelessly for families to have this freedom, and it is an honor to continue her work on this issue. I also thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for their work on this important piece of legislation.”

The Educational Choice for Children Act:

  • Provides $10 billion in annual tax credits to be made available to taxpayers. Allotment of these credits to individuals would be administered by the Treasury Department.
  • A base amount will be set for each state and then the credits are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Uses a limited government approach with respect to federalism, thus avoiding mandates on states, localities, and school districts.
  • Includes provisions that govern Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs), as SGOs are given the ability to determine the individual amount of scholarship awards.

An estimated two million students in any elementary or secondary education setting, including homeschool, are eligible to receive a scholarship. Eligible use of scholarships awards includes tuition, fees, book supplies, and equipment for the enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary school.

Senate cosponsors include Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Barrasso (R-WY), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Todd Young (R-IN), John Boozman (R-AR), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Katie Britt (R-AL).

House cosponsors include Representatives Burgess Owens (R-UT-04), Mike Kelly (R-PA-03), Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), Virginia Foxx (R-NC-05), Rudy Yakym (R-IN-02), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-01), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14), Jim Jordan (R-OH-04), Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY-11), Michelle Steel (R-CA-45), Claudia Tenney (R-NY-24), Rick Allen (R-GA-12), Mike Flood (R-NE-01), Russell Fry (R-SC-07), Erin Houchin (R-IN-09), Jake LaTurner (R-KS-02), Mike Lawler (R-NY-17), Julia Letlow (R-LA-05), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA-11), Nancy Mace (R-SC-01), Dan Meuser (R-PA-09), John Moolenaar (R-MI-02), John Rutherford (R-FL-05), Maria Salazar (R-FL-27), Joe Wilson (R-SC-02).

The Educational Choice for Children Act has received the endorsement of the Invest in Education Coalition, American Federation for Children, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heritage Action, Home School Legal Defense Association, Agudath Israel, Orthodox Union, Association of Christian Schools International, CAPE, Excel in Education, and former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

“There couldn’t be a better and more important time for Washington to help expand education freedom to reach millions more students than right now. From COVID lockdowns and generational learning loss to CRT and the 1619 Project, parents were pushed out of the classroom and told to be quiet. Students have suffered generational damage as a result. While I was serving as secretary of education, we advanced education freedom to the front of the agenda. I’m grateful to Dr. Cassidy for helping carry that torch forward, and I look forward to seeing Congress pass this critically needed legislation. It’s time for the failing education bureaucracy to get out of the way and empower parents to decide where, when and how their kids will learn best,” said Betsy DeVos, the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education.

“No child should be forced to go to a failing or unsafe school, and every parent should have a chance to shape their child’s future. When this bill becomes law, that dream will become a reality for more than a million American families,” said Luke Messer, the President of nonprofit Invest in Education. “America’s parents are grateful for the leadership of Senator Cassidy, Senator Scott, Senator Daines, and Senator Young on this important issue! Make no mistake about it, this bill is a real game changer.”

“We are grateful for Senator Cassidy and the other bold lawmakers putting forward this legislation. It truly has the power to deliver transformational change and opportunity to more than one million children across America. The Educational Choice for Children Act will complement existing school choice offerings in states and advance new and needed opportunities around the country. Importantly, these innovative scholarships will also help with critical learning loss, special needs services, and career and technical education. We commend Senator Cassidy’s leadership and willingness to fight for families and freedom in education,” said Tommy Schultz, CEO of the American Federation for Children.

“We encourage lawmakers, Republican and Democratic, to put a bipartisan stamp on the common-sense policy that is at the heart of this bill: assisting parents to access the learning environment and the educational benefits that are best suited for their children, and that will enhance educational achievement for all of America’s students. We call for its favorable consideration and passage by both House and Senate,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Vice President of Government Affairs and Washington Director of Agudath Israel of America.

“I am very grateful for your work on this legislation and your efforts to ensure the program is open to all students in all sectors. The prospect of expanded educational choice for families will benefit American education and better serve our children,” said Most Reverend Thomas A. Daly, Bishop of Spokane and Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Catholic Education.

Last July, Cassidy co-wrote an op-ed in the Washington Times with Senator Scott explaining the importance of their legislation for children’s educational success.