Parents Should Get School Choice Aid in New Economic Recovery Measure, Club for Growth Tells Congress

July 27, 2020 Updated: July 27, 2020

Any new economic recovery bill that Congress may approve and send to President Donald Trump for signature should provide financial help to parents so they can choose how their children will return to the classroom in September, according to Club for Growth President David McIntosh.

“The Club for Growth is pushing very hard for the Senate to include in the next round of COVID relief a parental choice solution to schools that are closing and parents that are having difficulty with education for their kids,” McIntosh told reporters July 27 during a telephone news conference.

“It would take money that is being allocated for K-12 and, instead of sending it through bureaucracies, it would direct it directly to the parents to use for their choice,” McIntosh said.

“They could pick another school, private, public or charter, they can hire tutors, they can get additional curriculums, but it will direct the funds to the parents and let them decide how best to craft an educational program for their students,” he said.

The group’s polling on the proposal found broad public support, including among black parents.

“The parental choice proposal made 25 percent of African Americans more likely to vote for President Trump and was the strongest Trump agenda item we tested among African Americans,” Club spokesman Joe Kildea told The Epoch Times.

The Club for Growth “Emergency Parental Choice Scholarships” program would provide funds directly to parents whose children are now enrolled in public school systems that either aren’t reopening in the fall, are offering a mix of live classroom and virtual teaching days, or are only providing virtual instruction.

Parents who choose to remove their children from such public school systems would receive $10,000 for choosing either to enroll them in a private institution or begin homeschooling them.

Parents who decide to transfer their children to a public charter school would receive $2,500. Parents who choose to keep their children in their present public school would still receive $1,000 to help with educational costs.

The funds can only be used for tuition or other approved educational expenses and would be available only to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

While McIntosh estimates the total cost of the program to be about $120 billion, he wouldn’t be unhappy if Congress decided to allocate the $70 billion that Senate Republicans presently appear to be planning to include in their relief bill.

Whatever the cost of the Club for Growth proposal, the funding for it could come from the more than $1 trillion in unspent dollars previously approved under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March.

Funding could also be made available by shifting previously appropriated Title I federal assistance money provided to a public school district on a per-student basis for children being transferred elsewhere, or by including the funding as an additional program.

The Club for Growth proposal follows a somewhat similar measure introduced last week by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and co-sponsored by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

“Growing up in a single-parent household in a distressed neighborhood, I fully understand what it means to be overlooked and underserved. As a supporter of school choice legislation, I am a firm believer that a child’s ZIP code should not dictate his or her access to quality education nor define the child’s future,” Scott said in a July 22 statement.

“Children in all K-12 schools, public and private, have been affected by COVID-19,” Alexander said in the statement. “Many schools are choosing not to re-open and many schools are failing to provide high-quality distance learning.”

The Scott-Alexander proposal would be funded through a one-time, emergency appropriation for scholarship-granting organizations (SGOs) in each state, as well as special tax credits for contributions to SGOs.

McIntosh said the Scott-Alexander approach “is so constricted that it actually won’t help most parents who are finding difficulties finding proper schooling, so it’s woefully inadequate in that sense.”

Asked about Democratic critics who claim school choice proposals amount to defunding public education, McIntosh said, “That’s typical special interest [thinking] where they’re counting $70 billion of possible as already available money.”

McIntosh also pointed out that “if the schools need additional money to wipe down and take care of the school rooms and the parents are given $1,000 to $10,000, they can get the money from the parents by providing the educational services.”

Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc