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DeMint Backs Bush Call for Opportunity Scholarships

Location: Charleston, SC

DeMint Backs Bush Call for Opportunity Scholarships

Spends Final Day of "Success in School, Success in Life" Tour Lending Support to President's Proposal

Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced his support for President George W. Bush's initiative to provide parents of children in failing schools with more educational choices through Opportunity Scholarships. Senator DeMint is concluding his "Success in School, Success in Life" tour in Charleston and Florence meeting with local leaders interested in education reform.

"Children trapped in a failing school deserve an opportunity for a better education," said Senator DeMint. "Opportunity Scholarships give these students a fighting chance to pursue an education at a higher-performing school."

Shortly after his State of the Union speech in January, President Bush renewed his commitment to helping students trapped in under-performing schools by requesting $100 million for the new America's Opportunity Scholarships for Kids.

Under the President's proposal, children in chronically failing schools - schools that have failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (a provision of No Child Left Behind) for six years - would be given $4,000 to attend private schools or $3,000 to receive supplementary education services or tutoring. Federal grants could be awarded to states, school districts or non-profit organizations so that they can distribute the scholarships to eligible students.

Opportunity Scholarships could also be used for intensive after-school tutoring for low-income students attending a school already identified as failing. Parents could use the scholarships of up to $3,000 for either after-school or summer tutoring programs.

"Parents know what is best for their children. Expanding educational options for parents is one of the hallmarks of the No Child Left Behind Act and it remains one of the President's highest priorities," said Margaret Spellings, Federal Secretary of Education.

Opportunity Scholarships are being tested now in Washington, DC, where around 1,700 children already participate in the program. It has been so successful that nearly 1,000 more students are currently on a waiting list. The Opportunity Scholarships for Kids initiative would be historic reform and provide school choice to thousands of low-income children across the nation.

Senator DeMint added, "We need an education system that fits our students, instead of trying to force students to fit the system. I look forward to working with my colleagues to act on this important initiative."

Senator DeMint spent this week traveling South Carolina and meeting with state business and education leaders about his ideas to strengthen the No Child Left Behind law; to encourage Financial Literacy programs in high schools; to offer Pell Grants to high school students; and to create Opportunity Scholarships.

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