Twenty-one House and Senate Members, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, have signed a Federal Education Freedom Pledge “to cosponsor and vote for legislation that allows federal funding to follow students.”
That simple statement encompasses a growing philosophical shift as policymakers begin to attach public funds to students, not to specific schools systems, whether public or private. Speaker Johnson is a standout leader of this trend. Before attaining the speakership, Rep. Johnson was a co-sponsor of the Educational Choice for Children Act, which would direct tax credits for K-12 scholarships. The legislation has more than 140 co-sponsors in the House and nearly 30 in the Senate.
As we conclude National School Choice Week, there is much to celebrate – but still much more to accomplish. For decades, the expansion of the school choice movement has grown at the edges of public policy awareness. In 2023, it exploded across the country, with Tennessee now shortly expected to become the 10th state to pass universal school choice.
Last year, Montana became the 46th state with an official charter school law, while New York State loosened its charter school cap. States from Utah to South Carolina, Iowa, Arkansas, and Montana have enacted educational savings accounts (ESA) that allow students to devote public education funds to private schools. Florida, Indiana, New Hampshire, and Tennessee recently expanded or converted ESA programs.
The school choice movement has the potential to go fully national. Polls show that almost 70 percent of Democrats supported school choice in 2022 – an increase of 9 percent from the pre-Covid era. It is true that all 21 signatories to the Federal Education Freedom Pledge are Republicans. Most of the states that have enacted or expanded school choice are considered red states. But there are growing signs that Democrats are following the lead of their constituents. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, recently said in an interview: “We should have scholarships for poor kids in struggling school districts – particularly poor kids of color – to give them an opportunity to get more tutoring, to get more help, to be put in the position where they can go to the schools that are best for them.”
The vast majority of Americans support school choice over concern for the flagging, often mediocre, performance of the American public educational system. Our organization supports school choice for yet another reason. The heritage and values we bequeath to our children will be our longest-lasting expression of speech possible, one passed down the ages.
That is why Protect The 1st sees school choice as a natural extension of the guarantees of the First Amendment. School choice encourages true educational pluralism and eliminates top-down imposition of ideologies – which vary among the states – by monolithic, public-school systems. Choice allows all parents, religious or nonreligious, conservative or liberal, to find schools that best fit the values they want to pass on to their children.
Here's to having even more to celebrate during National School Choice Week 2025.