Prepared Remarks by Secretary DeVos at the unveiling of the Education Freedom Scholarships proposal

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Prepared Remarks by Secretary DeVos at the unveiling of the Education Freedom Scholarships proposal

February 28, 2019

Thank you, Walter Blanks, for that kind introduction. And thanks for sharing your story with us this morning. Stories like yours and Denisha Merriweather's touch my heart every time I hear them, and they keep me motivated every day. I know each of you has an inspiring story, too!

You are growing up in a place and Walter and Denisha were fortunate to live in places that offer more education opportunities for students and their families. So many other students across our country aren't so lucky.

A great education shouldn't be determined by luck or by address or by family income. And education shouldn't be an old-school, one-size-fits-all approach.

Every student is unique and every one learns differently. The freedom to do that is why I took this job. And it's why we're here this morning.

Because what's missing in education today is at the core of what makes America truly great: freedom.

Kids should be free to learn where and how it works for them.

The American people elected President Donald Trump in part because he pledged to bring school choice to America's students. "If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two World Wars," he said, "then I have no doubt that we, as a nation, can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America."

So, this Administration is excited to join with Congressman Bradley Byrne and Senator Ted Cruz in advancing a historic investment in America's students: the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act.

Education Freedom Scholarships will give hundreds of thousands of students across the country the power to find the right fit for their education.

Our bold proposal will offer a dollar-for-dollar Federal income tax credit for contributions to 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that provide scholarships to students.

And the biggest winners will be America's forgotten children who will finally have choices previously available only for the rich, the powerful, and the well-connected.

All students need to be freed to pursue the education that will unlock their potential and unleash their creativity so they—and our country—can achieve unlimited success.

The key element of the proposal is freedom. Freedom for everyone involved. Students, families, teachers, schools, states can choose to participate in the program. Or they can elect not to participate. That's what freedom is all about.

Let me be clear: I firmly believe every state should embrace education freedom. But those are decisions families and communities must make. This is not another mandate.

We know gaining this freedom will require more work in some states than others. But as more states offer more options to families, demand will rise and pressure will mount on those who have not yet embraced the opportunity.

Ultimately, Education Freedom Scholarships require only one thing: students and parents must be empowered to make decisions and choices. America's families should decide how education dollars are spent for their own children. To most of us, that's common sense. To an elite few, it's a threat.

But freedom is never a threat. The only folks who are threatened are the same ones who have a vested financial interest in suppressing education freedom.

So, you'll hear that our proposal is an attack on public education. But beware: that's fake news!

The program won't take a single cent from local public school teachers or public school students. In fact, some states may choose to use the scholarships to enhance and improve already existing public school choices.

And let's stop and think about what public education really is.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently said it well: "If the taxpayer is paying for education, it's public education."

He's right!

And if the purpose of public education is to educate the public, then it does not matter what defining word comes before school.

Because education isn't about school buildings or school systems. Education is about school children.

In his State of the Union address, President Trump called on Congress to "pass School Choice for America's children." Education Freedom Scholarships are a powerful way students can prepare for successful careers and meaningful lives.

So it's time to get to work! America's children are watching and waiting for adults to take action. This is it! Not one student can wait another year, another election cycle or another generation.

For adults, the choice is clear: continue to play politics and protect "what is," or choose to be bold and do what's right for students.

President Trump and I will choose to stand with students—who are our future—every single time!

I want to especially acknowledge the strong leaders here with us today who feel the same way. Congressman Byrne and Senator Cruz, thank you for your leadership and thank you for your commitment to kids. And thank you to the many Members of Congress who have and will step forward to support this critical proposal.

And, finally, thank you all for being here! Education Freedom Scholarships are truly about all of you.

Thank you.