Hatch co-sponsors legislation to expand educational opportunities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Orrin Hatch, president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, issued the following statement after co-sponsoring Sen. Tim Scott’s Choice Act, introduced to the Senate Tuesday, to expand educational opportunities,:

“Students with disabilities, military dependent students, and the most underserved in our DC public schools shouldn’t be lost in our education system. This legislation will make sure that parents can give their children the best possible education our system has to offer.”

When enacted, the Choice Act will:

Ensure Children with disabilities get educational options best suited for them

  • Encourage states to establish school choice programs for students with disabilities by providing startup funds to support the design and initial implementation of a disability choice program.
  • Enable states that already run disability school choice programs to expand educational options for children with special needs with federal dollars.

Provide more choices to military families as they serve their country

  • Create a pilot program under the Department of Defense on at least five bases without DoD Education Activity schools to provide scholarships to students in military families on base of up to $8,000 for elementary and $12,000 for high school.

Expand educational options for low-income families in Washington, D.C.

  • Expand the successful DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which has served more than 5,000 low-income children in Washington, DC, by requiring excess carry-over funds that are not needed for the continuation of current participants’ scholarships be used to increase promotion and outreach and support more scholarships.
  • Ensure children currently enrolled in private schools who meet all of the DC OSP eligibility requirements are not unnecessarily excluded from participation.

Organizations, including the American Enterprise Institute, Association of Christian Schools International, Orthodox Union, Heritage Action, American Association of Christian Schools, Lexington Institute, PublicSchoolOptions.org and Palmetto Policy Forum in South Carolina stand in support of the legislation.

Sen. Tim Scott offered the following statement upon offering the bill:

Access to a quality education empowers individuals, changes families and strengthens communities.  I have seen firsthand in my own life how powerful education is, not just for the individual, but for all those connected to that student.

Today, however, not all of our children, through no fault of their own, have access to a quality education that allows them to reach their full God-given potential.

I believe that it is critical that we work together to provide every child with a good education and not get caught up in the politics.  We can do that by providing parents and students greater choice when it comes to their education.  My CHOICE Act will do that by expanding educational opportunities for children with disabilities, who live on military bases, or are in low-income communities.

In supporting the Choice Act reintroduction, Frederick M. Hess, director of educational policy studies at American Enterprise Institute, said:

Sen. Scott’s Choice Act is a sensible way for the federal government to make its investments in K-12 schooling more responsive to what families need.  These are measured proposals that will help more students find better schools, while respecting the limited nature of the federal role. This is the kind of legislation that signals to American families that the government is pursuing workable solutions to real problems.

Submitted by the Offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch

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