During my time in Washington, Congress has enacted positive reforms that will improve opportunities for Americans at every stage of life. As a Member of Congress who cares deeply about the education of our nation's children, my goal is to ensure that we continue to make education reform a high priority by empowering parents and teachers to provide our students with the best education possible and giving American workers access to the tools and protections they need to meet the challenges and opportunities of the New Economy.
I am not convinced that simply throwing money into education is the solution to our educational needs. We must eliminate the federal bureaucracy and offer real education reform. Over the last 30 years, educational achievement has remained stagnant, even though we have doubled the amount of money per pupil per year in elementary and secondary schools. I feel giving parents, administrators, and teachers the flexibility to decide how their money is spent will provide a better education for our children and allow each individual school the ability to meet their specific needs.
Decisions in education must be made at the local level. Every school is different whereby flexibility is needed to make decisions. Whether these necessities are to hire or retrain teachers, or develop new programs, the federal bureaucracy must be reduced and the Department of Education needs to be revamped before more money is squandered at the expense of our children.
The debate over school vouchers has drifted from school choice to a discussion about subsidizing private schools, and the separation of church and state. School choice is about one issue. Who should have the right to determine where a child goes to school, the parents or the government? I unconditionally believe parents have this right and are in a much better position than a government bureaucrat to decide what is best for a child. When I was a member of the state legislature, I supported the use of vouchers in Florida.
The debate on school vouchers has come to the forefront of our legal system. In the most important case concerning equality of opportunity in the 48 years since the school desegregation decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Cleveland's school choice program, which empowers parents to redeem tuition vouchers at religious as well as nonreligious private schools, does not violate the constitutional prohibition of "establishment" of religion. Advocates, such as myself, understand that striking down on voucher programs would suffocate a child's chance of a quality education.
I do not have concerns regarding the legality of school vouchers. Public schools are government-run and supported by individuals through their tax-dollars. Vouchers would allow parents to use their own tax dollars to achieve the means of educating their children. As long as there is no advocacy or pressure from government officials to choose a religious or non-religious school, the Constitution is not violated.