Passing Workforce Development Legislation Would Be the Most Significant Federal Civil Rights Victory of Modern Times

On Monday I participated in a roundtable discussion with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-Texas), several teachers, parents, and students focused on empowering American families with educational freedom and opportunities. Video of my remarks may be viewed here.

At the roundtable discussion, I said:

"I've been proud to work with Secretary DeVos-Secretary DeVos is doing an amazing job, she is a courageous, and principled education secretary-but I've been proud to work hand in hand with her on legislation that would provide $100 billion in federal tax credits over ten years for K-12 education and for workforce development. If and when we pass this, this will be the most significant federal civil rights victory of modern times.

I added:

"This is all about millions of kids. Millions of inner-city kids. Millions of African-American kids, millions of Hispanic kids, trapped right now desperate for hope and giving them scholarships. It is only the corrupt bureaucracy that is telling them no. And you are fighting-the men and women around this table are fighting-to get every one of those kids a shot at the American Dream. This is also about adults. About union members, about men and women out of work. Giving them workforce development and apprenticeships so that they can get good high paying jobs and provide for their family."

I have been a strong advocate for empowering America's students and families through school choice and as a part of my efforts in February introduced the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, a bill 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. In February, Secretary DeVos, Rep. Bradley Byrne Secretary (R-Ala.), and I penned an op-ed in USA Today, highlighting the abundant workforce training opportunities that Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act could provide for hardworking Americans and students.

In the op-ed we wrote:

"We recognize that each student is unique and deserves an education personalized for them. Scholarships could help students access a whole menu of opportunities, including dual enrollment, special education services, advanced or elective courses not available in their assigned school buildings, transportation to out-of-zone opportunities, among many others. All Americans need to be equipped for successful careers, and vital workforce preparation is in high demand. That's why students could use scholarships to access career and technical education and apprenticeships, as well."

Throughout the year, I have led discussions at local schoolsworkplaces, and college campuses with students, teachers, small business owners, and employees on the importance of improving workforce training for Texans.

Key provisions of my Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act include:
• Optional for States: State participation is optional - an issue important to prevent extending federal control over education.
• State Directed: States maintain the authority to create a program that works for them. States can decide which students are eligible for the scholarship credit, what constitutes eligible educational expenses and eligible educational providers, and more.
• Encourages Workplace Training Education: There is more than one pathway to success, and our rapidly-changing 21st century economy means that workers need new skills to compete. In addition to elementary and secondary education scholarships, this bill allows for scholarships related to career and technical education, apprenticeships, certifications, and other forms of workforce training for postsecondary students.
• Prohibits Federal Control of Education: Clarifies that nothing in this act shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any increased regulation or control over any aspect of a participating educational provider, scholarship granting organization, or workforce training organization. This allows all education providers to be able to participate, without fear of federal control.
• Helps Our Most Vulnerable Students: Many low- and middle-income students cannot afford tuition and educational expenses themselves, or do not have the means to pay for the workforce training needed to secure a stable, high-paying job. This tax credit will provide scholarships for these students, so that they can have the opportunity to receive an effective and successful education that prepares them for the future.


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