National School Choice Week!

Stacy French - January 26th, 2016


The Daily Signal takes a look back and finds cause for small-government conservatives to celebrate…


What School Choice Advocates Have to Celebrate

Lindsey Burke / 

National School Choice Week has just kicked-off, and there is much to celebrate this year. National School Choice Week will feature over 16,000 events across the country this week, ranging from school pep rallies in support of school choice, to policy panels exploring the many school choice options that are now available to families.

Over the past two decades, choice in education has seen dramatic gains. From the nation’s first school voucher program in Milwaukee, Wisc. in 1991 (although Vermont and Maine have had proto school choice options via “town tuitioning” programs since 1869 and 1873, respectively, allowing children to enroll in public or private schools outside of their neighborhood if there is no public school to attend) to the more than 56 private school choice options that operate in 28 states and Washington, D.C. today, school choice has been on the march.

Over the past decade alone, from 2004 to 2014, the number of children exercising private school choice has increased by over 257,000, more than tripling to over 350,000 total students. And in 2011, Arizona broke new ground by becoming the first state to offer education savings accounts (ESAs) to eligible families.

Education savings accounts enable families to have a proportion (90 percent in the case of Arizona) of the money that would have been spent on their child in their public school deposited instead into a parent-controlled savings account.

Families can then use those funds to pay for private school tuition, online learning, special education services and therapies, individual courses at their local public school or charter school, and private tutoring, among other things.

Families can even roll over unused funds from year to year, and can roll funds into a college savings account. Five states now have education savings accounts in place, including Nevada, which in 2015 became the first state to enact a near-universal option.

Creating school choice options in the states has been a welcome change for families. A growing body of empirical evidence suggests school choice can significantly improve academic attainment outcomes for participants, and can have positive impacts on academic achievement. School choice also confers positive benefits to the public school system, which responds to the competitive pressure placed on it by surrounding private schooling options.

In a meta-analysis of the existing school choice literature, researcher Greg Forster found that to date, 12 empirical analyses employing random assignment methodology have examined the impact of school choice on the academic outcomes of participating children. Of the 12 studies, 11 found that school choice improved academic outcomes, with one study found no impact.

In addition to the positive impacts on academic outcomes, Forster also found that 23 evaluations of the impact of school choice on public schools have been conducted to date, using a mix of methodologies.

Twenty-two of the 23 studies found that choice improved educational outcomes for students in the public schools that faced competition because of school choice policies, while one study was unable to detect any impact. In addition to the positive impacts of choice on educational outcomes and public school performance, researchers have conducted six empirical evaluations of the fiscal cost of school choice, all finding school choice creates savings for taxpayers.

As National School Choice Week kicks-off, here’s hoping 2016 will be the best year yet for choice in education. Several states are currently considering options such as tuition tax credit scholarships and education savings accounts, meaning its likely that by this time next year, thousands of additional families could be experiences the benefits of educational choice, enabling them to craft learning options that are as unique as their individual children.

In the news… 1.13.2016

Stacy French - January 13th, 2016
  • Senator Mike Lee’s one minute response to the President’s State of the Union address, Daily Signal
  • The Week’s article on Sen. Mike Lee, the most interesting Republican in Congress
  • National Review, Democrats fighting against school choice in Washington, D.C. (where it’s needed most)

Key Vote Alert – Student Success Act (HR 5)

Andrew Roth - July 08th, 2015


Student Success Act (HR 5)

 The Club for Growth urges all House members to vote YES on the following amendments that will be considered during the debate on the Student Success Act (HR 5).  These votes will be included in the Club for Growth’s 2015 Congressional Scorecard.

  • Walker-DeSantis Amdt #36: Allows states to opt-out of the federal programs authorized in the bill, and instead receive a block grant.
  • Salmon Amdt #129: Allows parents to opt their students out from federal testing requirements.
  • Rokita-Grothman Amdt #134: Reduces the length of reauthorization to four years, from six years.

If the Walker-DeSantis amendment passes, the Club for Growth will urge House members to support the underlying bill and include that vote in the Club’s scorecard.  On all other possible outcomes, the Club takes no position on the underlying bill. Our Congressional Scorecard for the 114th Congress provides a comprehensive rating of how well or how poorly each member of Congress supports pro-growth, free-market policies and will be distributed to our members and to the public.

Mike Simpson’s Atrocious Record On School Choice

Andrew Roth - July 18th, 2013
Club for Growth Spokesman Barney Keller: “Mike Simpson’s record of opposing school choice is exactly why he was endorsed six times in a row by the Idaho Teachers Union.” 

Washington, DC – As House Republicans debate an education reform bill today, the Club for Growth PAC pointed out that Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson has one of the worst records on school choice of any Republican serving today: 

“If House conservatives want to push for education reform, the last person they should rely on is Idaho’s Mike Simpson,” said Club for Growth Spokesman Barney Keller. “Mike Simpson opposes school vouchers and has called using standardized testing as a major factor to measure teacher performance ‘unfair’. He was also one of just nine Republicans to vote against reauthorizing the school voucher system in Washington, D.C. Mike Simpson’s record of opposing school choice is exactly why he was endorsed six times in a row by the Idaho Teachers Union.” 

“Idaho Republicans have a choice: they can return Teachers Union ally and R.I.N.O. Mike Simpson to Congress, or they can replace him with real conservative Bryan Smith,” added Keller. 

Mike Simpson: Opposed To School Vouchers and Endorsed by the Idaho Teachers Union Six Elections In A Row 

The Idaho Teachers Union has endorsed Simpson every election cycle since 2000, citing his opposition to school vouchers: The Idaho Education Association’s political action committee has endorsed U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson over Democratic challenger Nicole LeFavour….In a Facebook message to its members, IEA cited Simpson’s education strengths, including working with NEA staff to reverse parts of No Child Left Behind, voting against private school vouchers and supporting the extension of State Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is the sixth election cycle in a row PACE recommended NEA endorse Simpson. (The Times-News, 7/8/12) 

Idaho Teacher’s Union: We endorsed Simpson because he voted against vouchers and called it “unfair” to predominantly base teacher performance on standardized test scores: How did PACE decide to recommend Representative Mike Simpson for Congressional District 2 in 2012? This is the sixth consecutive time IEA’s PACE committee, by an overwhelming majority, made the recommendation to the NEA to endorse Congressman Mike Simpson. PACE believes that Nicole LeFavour is a true friend of education and has worked tirelessly for teachers and students during her time in the Idaho legislature. Everyone at PACE and the IEA is deeply grateful for her many years of advocacy. The recommendation to support Simpson was based on a number of factors, including his past support on education issues, a long-time positive working relationship with him in Congress, his and his staffs availability and willingness to meet and work with the IEA and the NEA, his leadership positions on key committees and his high probability of reelection. Representative Simpson:

·         Worked behind the scenes with NEA staff to reverse the one-size-fits-all nature of No Child Left Behind.

·         Voted against private school vouchers.

·         Supported the extension of SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program).

·         Supported the elimination of the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination provision, which would improve retirement income for teachers.

·         Believes “teachers must have a prominent seat at the negotation table anytime significant reforms are being considered at any level of government.”

·         Stated “…it is unfair to base teacher performance solely, or predominantly, on student standardized test scores alone.”

(Source: Idaho Education Association Facebook Page, Accessed 7/18/13) 

Simpson voted against an amendment to include school vouchers in No Child Left Behind: But with Bush himself intervening at critical times, the House rejected major changes to the bill, and every member from Oregon and Washington ended up voting yes. A GOP amendment to add a voucher program failed, 155-273, with a surprising number of Republicans voting against it, including two from the Northwest — Simpson and Greg Walden of Oregon. (Lewiston Morning Tribune, 6/3/2001) 

Simpson voted against vouchers for early grade school (RCV #521, 1999) 

Simpson voted against establishing a pilot program for school vouchers in 10 states (RCV #524, 1

Simpson opposed funding for school vouchers: “The president’s budget process proposes a modest increase in NCLB of $949 million or 4.1% compared to the levels provided in the CR however almost one-third of that would for private school vouchers. At a time when the budget proposes to eliminate important programs for public schools such as education technology state grants and proposes to cut by 50% funds for career and technical education, why should we provide $300 million for private schools which by the way would not be subject to the same accountability as public schools are?” (Testimony of Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education, before the House Appropriations Committee, 3/12/07) VIDEO LINK: (at 51:15) 

Simpson was one of nine Republicans to vote against reauthorizing a school-choice voucher system for Washington, D.C.: Over fierce Democratic opposition, the House on Wednesday approved a bill to re-establish a school-choice voucher system for Washington, D.C., residents. The vote came a day after the White House said it opposed the program but stopped short of threatening to veto the legislation. The bill, H.R. 471, was approved on a 225-195 vote. Only one Democrat, Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), voted for the bill, and nine Republicans voted against it: Reps. Judy Biggert (Ill.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Sam Graves (Mo.), Morgan Griffith (Va.), Timothy Johnson (Ill.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Ron Paul (Texas), Dave Reichert (Wash.) and Mike Simpson (Idaho). Restoring the D.C. voucher system was a top priority for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who sponsored the bill. (The Hill, 3/31/11) (RCV #204, 2011)

How Do We Break the Cycle of Higher Tuition and More Debt?

Barney Keller - February 18th, 2013