Schooling Is ‘Civil Rights Concern,’ Says Sen. Tim Scott

Senator Tim Scott addressed the American people on Wednesday evening in response to President Joe Biden’s address to a joint congressional session. The speech received widespread recognition for Scott’s outspoken assessment of the nation’s problems and for sensible solutions to them.

A week earlier, the Republican from South Carolina visited The Daily Signal to deliver an exclusive address to those attending the Heritage Foundation’s annual Leadership Conference. (The daily signal is the Heritage News Agency.)

Our conversation covered a range of education-related topics including school choice, COVID-19 and Scott’s personal passion for education. A slightly edited copy follows.

Rob Bluey: We are grateful that Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina attended the annual Leadership Conference. We come to you from our headquarters in Capitol Hill here at The Heritage Foundation. Senator, you have a few introductory remarks that you wanted to talk about in relation to the choice of schools.

Sen. Scott Team: Thank you, Rob. Let me say to the heritage audience out there, God bless you. What you are all doing is incredibly important to protect conservatism in our country. God bless you for that.

Education couldn’t be more important. I will say that as a child who grew up in poverty and had a single parent household, I went to four different elementary schools in fourth grade. I understand and appreciate the importance of quality education in every single zip code in America.

The closest thing to magic in America is quality education. It’s the great balance. And so I’m looking forward to the conversation we’re going to have about the importance of education, Rob, because if there’s one civil rights issue today that we’ve spent too little time on, it’s the issue of quality education and educational reform in Europe our country.

It is the problem that enables every family living in poverty today to believe that the American dream is alive, well, and well, and finding its way. I look forward to the questions.

Bluey: Thank you, Senator. And we appreciate your passion for this topic. You mentioned postcodes. So much of American education is based on zip codes in this country. They have a law called the Choice Act that gives parents the choice to make choices that truly empower them to go beyond the traditional way we think about them. Can you explain what it would do?

Scott: Certainly. The electoral law really focuses on giving parents a choice – so children have a chance. Something that has been said a thousand times as part of education reform, but it’s true. The more we focus on giving and equipping parents with options, the more likely it is that their children will reach their full and maximum potential.

What the legislation does is just that. It gives parents more options in their portfolio to make better decisions for their children. And it doesn’t matter if you are a parent who lives on a military base. God bless those who put on the uniform to serve our country. Those children in these households may need some options.

Think of parents who have children with special needs. I have a few people in my office who have special needs. I want his parents, nice people, to have the opportunity to choose the place that is most suitable to make sure Patrick realizes [his] full potential. And we also focus on children….

The Title II funding is the special children or those with special needs [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] Financing. This is why we also focus on making sure that other parents also have the opportunity to see that their children are doing their best [potential].

Bluey: I’m glad you raised military families. Obviously, we know that military families are often on the move. Sometimes their children are placed in underperforming schools. What would it mean for them especially if they moved to a new community?

Scott: Rob, I’m telling you folks who go from base to base every two or three years. It sounds very comfortable to sit in a wonderful environment like we are today. And the truth is, for many parents, part of the butterflies they feel in their bellies is, “What will happen to my children in the next place? Will there be good schools, bad schools, schools that are far away? ”

What the electoral law does is start a pilot program that allows certain places to study only and open the door of opportunity to parents on the grassroots basis to send their children to the school of their parents’ choice as opposed to Unfortunately, there are also many bases that are exactly where we need them to protect us, exactly where they need to be to train our soldiers, but they are not necessarily the best place to raise our children.

Electoral law gives parents a different kind of arsenal, gives them the arsenal of choice.

Bluey: That’s great. Right here in Washington, DC, there’s a landmark program called the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. You have been a strong advocate for this, along with my colleagues from the Heritage Foundation and many other members of Congress. Since it was founded in 2004, it has served 10,000 students to date, probably more than those who have led better lives as a result.

Can you speak specifically about this program and what it means right now with the new administration in Washington? Will we be able to save it and keep it going?

Scott: Well, two very important questions. First question: What does it mean for these 10,000+ children. … If you attend any of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Schools, the chance that you will graduate is 93%. They attend one of the other public schools, closer to 50%. The gap between these two lifelong income learning pathways runs into the millions. It means a lot for the 10,000+ children who have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

I am glad we have been able to keep this program going for almost 17 years. And it means a lot more to the community and to the nation. It’s hugely important. Here’s the question, your second question: How are we with this new administration protecting school choices in this country, and especially here in DC?

People like Heritage need to stay engaged to be a loud public voice for children who sometimes feel speechless. Sometimes they feel invisible. What all of you can do as a result of this conference is empower the people here in DC to make the right choices, non-partisanly.

It’s unusual to talk about bilateral support in 2021, but the DC Opportunity Scholarship was endorsed by both parties. I just wish the entire nation had bipartisan support on getting kids the best education and not bowing their knees to union bosses.

Bluey: Well they definitely should. And I know you and I have both had the opportunity to hear some of the incredible stories from people who have benefited, especially students who have benefited from these programs. And so it’s just amazing. Senator, as a parent yourself, someone who has two children in elementary school who have spent most of the past year home and back two days a week, I know that COVID and some of the changes we’re in the Education seen in the past year are on the minds of many parents.

How has this had a positive impact on school choice to provide more options for parents as they seem to find their way around public schools that are not necessarily up to the level they see fit?

Scott: Absolutely. Well, Rob, one of the things that is really important is that during this pandemic, private schools were open non-stop when public schools were consistently closed. As a nation, we give more than $ 700 billion to public education. And we can’t keep our doors open? And we give private schools pennies on the dollar and yet their children thrive through the pandemic, not just survive.

What this pandemic did increased the heat. It raised the temperature in the room around the school choice in a good, positive and constructive way for us.

African American parents have never had a higher level of approval for school choice than they do today. Hispanic parents, of course; white parents; All parents see it differently … but here’s what we know: Not every single parent is designed to be a homeschool parent and a homeschool teacher.

We ask our parents to do some things that they may not have equipped [to do]. And if you’re a parent like I’ve had, an amazing loving mother, she can’t be at work and at home. Hence, the choice of school has become increasingly important due to the pandemic. And in all honesty, we can now see more clearly because of the pain and crisis we just went through.

Bluish: And I hope it opened the eyes of people who may have been skeptics before. What’s your message You talked about the importance of this being a non-partisan issue. It really is a reasonable problem. How can we convince those who are skeptical about school choice if they have heard about it in the past from teachers’ unions or Big Labor? What is your message to them?

Scott: Well I would just say if you want children to have the brightest future, if you want every American to make the American dream come true, then education is one of the most important cornerstones. We have the opportunity to do the right thing, not for adults in education, but for the focus of education, children.

The choice of school, whether public, private, virtual, charter or homeschool, gives parents the arsenal necessary to win the war for their children’s futures. We should all be involved in creating that better future.

Bluey: Well said Senator, thank you for attending the annual Leadership Conference. We are grateful for your work on this topic. And we look forward to staying engaged.

Scott: Thank you, Rob. Appreciate your work.

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