Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 25, 2014

Why School Choice matters

U.S. Congressman Luke Messer
Greensburg Daily News

---- — Lots of families in America have the opportunity to send their child to a great school. This is particularly true in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District where we are blessed with a strong network of public and private school options - schools where our children are safe and have a meaningful opportunity to learn.

But, the simple truth is too many kids in America have their destiny determined by zip codes. That’s because too many families live in neighborhoods with bad schools, and they can’t afford to do anything about it. If you can’t afford to move and you can’t afford to send your child to a different school, what real options do you have if your local school is not working?

This is why school choice matters. It gives parents the freedom to choose the best educational environment for their child to succeed regardless of income, geographic boundaries or lot in life. Simply put, it gives every child an opportunity to get a good education.

In recent years, Indiana has become a national school choice leader. Today, almost 20,000 Hoosier students participate in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program. That’s more than a 400% increase in participation since the program started just three years ago.

As a former President of School Choice Indiana, I am proud of the work we are doing in Indiana to make sure every Hoosier child has the chance to learn. And, I am committed to championing school choice here in Washington, D.C., too. That is why we formed the Congressional School Choice Caucus in January, which is dedicated to ensuring every child in America has the opportunity to go to a great school. Members of the caucus will work to expand educational freedom and promote policies that increase high-quality educational options for all children.

Just this month, I introduced the Scholarships for Kids Act, H.R. 4000. In the words of Tennessee U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, who formerly served as Secretary of Education under the first President Bush, “[t]his is the most ambitious proposal ever to use federal dollars to enable states to expand school choice and is a real answer to inequality in America, giving more children more opportunity to attend a better school.”

The Scholarships for Kids Act empowers parents by freeing-up $24 billion in Federal education funds to directly follow the child and be spent by their families. It is estimated that more than 11 million students would be eligible. That’s an average of $2,100 per student that parents could use to supplement their public school or charter school budget, pay for private school tuition and fees, attend a school outside of their district or purchase tutoring services or homeschooling materials. For states like Indiana that already have a school voucher program, this extra money could be used to increase scholarship amounts and expand educational opportunities.

I have also cosponsored the Educational Opportunities Act to give individual and corporate taxpayers a tax credit for charitable contributions to organizations that provide scholarships for elementary and secondary school students from low income households.

In modern America, no child can succeed without a quality education. Let’s stop excusing the inexcusable. Together, we can make sure this opportunity is a reality for every child.

— Daily News