Yesterday, U.S. Senator and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee member Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S. 4432, the Support Children Having Open Opportunities for Learning (SCHOOL) Act to provide parents and students with much-needed flexibility and options regarding K-12 education.
“As the impact of the ongoing pandemic and the government response efforts continue to place parents in situations requiring greater flexibility in balancing working and providing for their families’ critical needs, especially when educating their children at home, my SCHOOL Act grants them that flexibility by empowering them to use their own tax dollars to find the option that best fits their family’s needs and allowing them to reclaim a bit of stability in uncertain times,” said Dr. Paul.
While federal education dollars are currently sent to states and then distributed amongst public school districts, Dr. Paul’s legislation would allow federal funds for K-12 education to follow the eligible child, learning in person or remotely, to the school of their choice.
Whether in public school, private school, or homeschool, the funds can be used for a wide range of educational needs, including tuition, curriculum materials, technology, support for special education, or classes outside the home.
As families face the reality of hybrid learning or a completely virtual school year, students, especially those with disabilities, need a choice in education and the tools to succeed no matter where they are learning.
Under the status quo, taxpayer dollars fund government schools, not education.
Americans are taxed to provide federal education funding, ostensibly for the education of their children and others, but the money goes to finance public schools regardless of whether those students end up attending them. If families choose to homeschool or send their children to private schools, the taxpayer money marked for their child’s education still goes to the public school, and the family is left to cover the actual cost of their kids’ schooling on their own. This means that in many cases, low-income families have no choice but to send their children to public schools, even if those very schools are failing their students.
The broken system for the allocation of federal education funds was already a problem before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to that crisis and sweeping government restrictions, many public schools will remain closed for in-person learning this fall. Some families who have been forced to rely on these schools simply cannot work and pay their bills without the crucial childcare services that go along with educational programs, and their personal circumstances may be such that draconian COVID-19 avoidance efforts are not necessary nor warranted.