“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This question is probably the single most-asked question of any child throughout the world. Here in the United States, many children are able to achieve their dreams through hard work, dedication, and a quality education.
But, for some here in our own country, hard work and dedication are not enough when it comes to circumstances out of their control like where they live or how much their family makes. Too many students find themselves stuck in failing schools.
Every child has boundless individual potential, and we must do everything we can to ensure they have the opportunity and freedom to realize that potential. To do that, we must ensure all children have access to choice in education.
Education has always been a passion of mine. In fact, it was concerns over public education that first motivated me to run for office and work to make a difference. As a first-generation college graduate, I’ve seen firsthand the power a quality education can have on an individual’s life.
So, I have always been an advocate for public education and worked to make sure our schools have the resources they need to do help educate our students. I’ve also fought to limit the heavy hand of the federal government in our classrooms, in an effort to make sure decisions are made by local and state officials who best understand their students.
Whether it was serving on the Alabama State Board of Education or more recently as a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I have made it a priority to put forward solutions to create a better future for our nation’s children.
Most recently, I worked with the Trump Administration to introduce the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act. This legislation will give students and parents in Alabama and around the country the freedom they deserve to make educational decisions that are right for them.
The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act was developed in consultation with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz as the Trump Administration’s leading education proposal. Our bill responds to President Trump’s State of the Union call for greater school choice and builds upon the model that has already been successful in Alabama.
Every student in America should have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, and we can help accomplish that goal through a new federal tax credit. Our bill will create a non-refundable federal tax credit for contributions from individuals and businesses to state-identified nonprofits called Scholarship Granting Organizations.
These scholarships can be used to expand students’ access to a variety of educational opportunities, from advanced or remedial courses to private and home schooling to CTE opportunities.
It puts control in the hands of states and localities rather than the federal government when it comes to educational choice and scholarships.
Very important to me, the bill does not take a single penny away from public education. I know the vast majority of students in Alabama and in the United States attend public schools, like my children did, and I will remain steadfast in fighting for our traditional public schools, teachers, and students.
Through the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, we will increase opportunity for families to make informed decisions that work for them and their individual needs, rather than cookie cutter solutions that don’t work.
By providing greater freedom in education and continuing to fight for our nation’s children, we can help every student realize their goal of “what they want to be.” In doing so, we can make our state and our country even stronger.
Bradley Byrne is a member of U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.