WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) partnered with the Hoover Institution to host a school choice policy panel, featuring former Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Congressman Burgess Owens (R-Utah). Panelists responded to issues raised during Sen. Scott’s “parent involvement panel” earlier this week and discussed how to expand education opportunity to children across America—regardless of their family’s income or zip code.
Sec. Rice, on the lack of education choice for low-income families:
“Let me just say one thing about people who say, ‘Well… school choice will be a problem for the public education system. It’s going to undermine public education.’
“I fully believe in public education. But we have to recognize that we have a choice system. If you have means, you will move to a district where the schools are good and the houses are expensive. … And so, that’s choice for parents. If you’re really well off, you’ll send your kids to private schools. That’s choice.
“So who doesn’t really have choice? Poor parents. We have to give those poor parents — many of whom are minority parents — better options for their kids. And that is why I think the issue of parental choice is at the center of allowing us to give the kids who need it most an opportunity for a high-quality education.”
Rep. Owens, on the need for competition within our school system:
“We were talking just before we got started about the NFL this past weekend. It was such a great weekend because we saw so much professional competition at the highest level.
“Well, our school system should not think that just because they’re a public [school] system, that they’re entitled to have our kids. They should be competing for our kids.
“We should have the option as parents to say, ‘Based on my kids [and] their talents, their skills, their personality, we should choose what’s best for them.’ We are their parents; we know what’s best for them. …
“The most important product in our society [is] our kids. And we need to start holding systems accountable. If they’re not able to do their job, then we should have a choice at finding a place where kids can come through, have a great future, love our country, [and] give back.”
Sec. Rice, on school choice from a national security perspective:
“There is no more important issue for us in terms of our national security than for us to educate our people — both for our internal cohesion and for our competitiveness abroad.
“We need to recognize that other countries out there are educating their kids, and they’re educating them [at] very high levels. We don’t want to get to a place where we only educate some of our kids.
“The strength of America is that you were never prisoner of the circumstances of your birth. Tim — Senator Scott — you are a shining example of that. My dear friend, the late Colin Powell, was a shining example of not being captive of the circumstances of your birth. You get to move up in this society. And that has made us the envy of the world, that you aren’t trapped into the place that you were born. And yet if we can’t make education available to all of our kids, we’ll no longer be able to say that.”
Sen. Scott, in closing:
“I think it was Condi who said ‘Ignorant and free cannot be.’ That should be the theme of school choice and parental involvement. …
“As we move forward in this conversation [and] as we head to, frankly, Black History Month, if there is an issue that should be of paramount importance during this month of celebration, let’s focus our time on the number one Civil Rights issue our nation faces today, and that’s education.”
Watch Sen. Scott’s “parent involvement panel” from earlier this week here.