WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday participated in a panel discussion with U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity, Gerard Robinson at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s 2019 Summit on Education (RISE 2019). Watch the full panel here.
At the panel, Sen. Cruz highlighted his Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, which would 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. Next week, Sen. Cruz will launch an “Education Opportunity Tour” with several stops in Texas to highlight provisions of the bill.
“Like many of the people in this room, I’ve been involved in the school choice movement for a couple of decades now,” Sen. Cruz said. “And the difference, 20, 30 years ago we were arguing mostly theoretically. We were arguing mostly if you create choice, if you expand competition, it will benefit students and it will benefit the public schools. And at the time, the principle argument marshaled against choice was that it would hurt and indeed, often it was framed as, it would destroy the public schools for there to be another choice for kids to have.”
Sen. Cruz continued, noting that when student opportunities are expanded, both the students and schools are direct beneficiaries.
“The nice thing is we look at the scenario today, we’ve seen school choice programs implemented across the country,” Sen. Cruz continued. “This is no longer theoretical. We now know that the arguments they marshaled against choice are not true. We know that when you expand choices, when you expand options, when you give kids new opportunities, two things happen. Number one, those kids who get those new opportunities, they benefit. They get higher test scores, they get greater graduation rates, they get greater rates of going to college. Their entire opportunity is transformed. But number two, we know that competition works and that it benefits the public schools. That when you expand choices the quality of education in the public schools for the students who don’t exercise choice but are in the school system facing competition, their education improves as well.”
Sen. Cruz also highlighted the provisions of the bill, including the potential $100 billion in federal tax credits for both K-12 and postsecondary workforce education in the next 10 years.
“Neither Betsy nor I wanted a federal top-down program that trampled on the authority of the states and the people,” Sen. Cruz said. “So this is designed to be an opt-in program, so any state can make the decision whether to participate or not. And on the K-12 side, it is $5 billion dollars a year in federal tax credits. So over 10 years that’s $50 billion–even in Washington speak, $50 billion is a lot of money.”
“And for states that opt-in, for individuals or corporations that make contributions to scholarship granting organizations–that the states set up the rules for how they’re governed–they get a dollar for dollar credit on their federal tax bill,” Sen. Cruz said. “What this will do is unleash a torrent of new resources for scholarships, for opportunities to expand choice. And the way the legislation is drafted, the feds have zero authority to impact curriculum in any way. And the only constraints are that states implementing this can’t discriminate. So they can’t discriminate on the basis of faith, they can’t discriminate against religious schools, they can’t discriminate against private schools. Whatever systems they set up have to allow the students and parents to have choice. And it’s designed, as I said, to bring new resources into education and to bring them in in a way that they’re expanding competition to improve quality.”