Priebus – Republicans are Leading the Way on School Choice

In honor of National School Choice week, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has an op-ed on BET.com stressing the importance of school choice and how Republicans have led the effort to implement it nationwide.

This week is National School Choice Week. Organizers describe it as “a nonpartisan, nonpolitical public awareness effort.” It’s about shining a spotlight on the opportunities that school choice can create — and the need to give parents and children more options and more hope. 

While I agree that school choice should be a “nonpartisan” issue, the reality is that Democrats have often stood in the way of school choice. In Louisiana under Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, the school choice scholarship program has expanded. But the Obama administration sued them, hoping to roll it back. Likewise, Democrats tried to kill the DC Opportunity Scholarship, which helps disadvantaged kids in our nation’s capital. Thankfully, Republicans in Congress were able to save it.

Republicans have consistently worked to expand a variety of school choice programs, sometimes with bipartisan support, sometimes without. According to the American Federation for Children, 2013 saw new school choice programs in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin — all states with Republican governors. In the Senate, Sen. Tim Scott has sponsored the CHOICE Act, which would expand educational options for students with disabilities, military families and low-income families. 

In the 2013-2014 school year, over 308,000 students were able to take advantage of private school choice programs, according to the American Federation for Children. That doesn’t include the many other parents and children who chose charter schools or other alternatives. In other words, school choice is making a real and tangible difference for kids, but we can’t rest until a good education is within reach for all kids. As Senator Scott, who led the charge in the Senate to declare this week School Choice Week, says, “When parents have a choice, our kids have a chance.”

Read Priebus’s full column at BET.com.