The president may have offered platitudes about educational opportunity last night. But this morning, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman do something to provide more than that. They are introducing the bipartisan Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act at the Capitol today.
SOAR’s original House sponsors and co-sponsors will be: Boehner, Darrell Issa, John Kline, Duncan Hunter, Trey Gowdy, and Democrat Daniel Lipinski. In the Senate, Susan Collins, Dianne Feinstein, Lamar Alexander, and John Ensign join Lieberman.
Here’s an exclusive excerpt of Speaker Boehner’s remarks as prepared for the 11:15 a.m. press conference with Senator Lieberman:
While cutting spending and helping our economy get back to creating jobs is the top priority for our new majority, education is important too. In his State of the Union message last night, President Obama spoke of the vital role education plays in making our nation competitive. I agree with the president: education does play a key role in making our country more competitive. But we need to start by making America’s education system itself more competitive. That’s what opportunity scholarships are doing in Washington, D.C., and that’s what they’ll do for education throughout America if we give parental choice a chance.
The education establishment in America is opposed to greater competition in our school systems, because they see it as a threat. That’s unfortunate, and it does a disservice to the children of our country. To his credit, President Obama has challenged the teachers unions on issues like performance pay – and I hope he’ll challenge them on this. On behalf of the families of D.C.’s inner-city schools – and those of inner-city schools throughout America – I stand with Sen. Lieberman today and respectfully ask the President to take another look at this program. I hope the Obama Administration will assure the children, teachers, and parents of this city that this successful program will be allowed to continue – and work with us, in a bipartisan way, to make it a model for similar programs throughout our country.
As Corner readers know, SOAR comes the morning after the Speaker hosted families who have been impacted by the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program and teachers and activists who have been involved in providing opportunities for inner-city students in Washington, D.C.
(See also: Education Message Didn’t Add Up to Excellence, The Speaker’s Worthy Guests, The Speaker’s Opportunity Box)