Prepared Remarks by Secretary DeVos at the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program 15th Anniversary Celebration

Prepared Remarks by Secretary DeVos at the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program 15th Anniversary Celebration

October 23, 2019

I'm so happy to be with all of you this morning. I especially want to thank Senator Ron Johnson, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, Congressman Andy Harris, and Congressman Ralph Norman for your leadership on the hill and for your commitment to education freedom. Thanks to each of you.

Parents and students, thank you for sharing your stories. You're why we're here.

You inspire all of us to keep fighting alongside you for your futures, and ours.

I am blessed and encouraged to visit with students and families whose lives have been changed by the Opportunity Scholarship Program—by education freedom. And I am highly motivated by the students and families who don't yet have that freedom.

Education freedom is what motivated my friend—our friend—Virginia Walden Ford. Her son's future hung in the balance.

We are so grateful for Virginia's faith, for her courage, her perseverance, and her example. How exciting it was to see Virginia's story dramatized for the silver screen.

And how sad it was to see folks in Tinseltown turn a blind eye to a story ready-made for Hollywood. "Miss Virginia" should be in bright lights on every marquee across America. But Hollywood elites let their politics get in the way of advancing the greatest civil rights struggle today. Sure, they say they're "pro-public school," and then they choose to send their own children elsewhere. They have a choice.

Well, Virginia's story is a poignant one. It powerfully reminds us all that parents want better for their children, and they'll do anything for their children.

And here in our Nation's capital, parents will persist, they will persevere, and they will win!

Their children win with freedom. That's why 94 percent of D.C.'s parents who use scholarships for them are happy with their decision.

They like that their children are safe. They like that their children are learning and achieving in school. They like education freedom, and they want more of it.

That's why we're here today. We're here to tell all those folks on the hill that the Opportunity Scholarship Program works. Empowering parents and students works. Freedom works.

It's simply common sense to us. But to the bullies whose goal is to suppress education freedom, it's not. They'll claim this great Program is a threat to public schools. Well, since we know it equally funds traditional and charter public education, and we know that all students do better because of it, the Program is clearly not a threat. It's not a threat to anyone except maybe the bullies.

We've seen them protect their interests at the expense of kids. Just ask the 216 aspiring students who had their scholarships—their education freedom—taken from them in 2009.

But we're not here for those bullies. We're here for these students! And all the students who are waiting and hoping for a scholarship. Those who need an Opportunity Scholarship. Those who need education freedom.

This Administration trusts parents and believes in students. We've fought for this Program and now more students are receiving scholarships.

Do you know that more than half of all D.C. students attend a school other than their government-assigned one? Washington is one of the most choice-rich environments in the country, and students—no matter where they go to school—are better because of it.

But there is still so much unmet demand. We can't stop fighting until every student in this city—and across the country—is free.

Their freedom and their futures are not political footballs. There is strong bipartisan support for this bill. I'm so encouraged to see that.

This is not a partisan issue. This transcends left or right, red or blue. This is about each student's future, and it's ultimately about our country's future. Our future is won with freedom. And freedom belongs to all of us. Let's fight for it!