- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2020

Sen. Rand Paul gets it.

He understands that when it comes to the health, education and welfare of children, few things are more important to a family. He also knows a monopoly when he sees one.

Enter the SCHOOL Act, legislation Mr. Paul introduced in early August that encourages parents to opt their kids out of public schools and hands them the money to pay for tutoring, nonpublic schooling and education items, among other things.

Under the Kentucky Republican’s plan, public school monopolies will have to share taxpayer dollars, and funds will have to follow the child, not the dictates of “the system.”

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year opened the door to more public funding of private schools, and Mr. Paul goes even further with legislation that discards the one-size-fits-all system with its laws, practices and policies largely controlled by unions and educrats.

The federal government used to give families a lot of leeway. The Founding Fathers did, too — allowing states to handle education matters. That was before Congress and the White House instituted “reforms” in 1953 via the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

President Carter flipped the script again in 1979 by taking education out of the bureaucratic HEW equation and establishing the cabinet-level Department of Education.

Oh well. Here we are.

State and local leaders are wearing their health (i.e. COVID-19) crayons into nubs and ignoring their education obligations.

In Maryland, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich tried to shutter private and religious schools during COVID-19. Parents told him to step back and leave our schools alone. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, had their back.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio don’t cotton to school choice and parental wherewithal. In left-leaning California, some public schools were pushing virtual learning, with teachers face-timing with students for only 1.5 to 2.5 hours a day.

If kids don’t learn, tough.

And in the nation’s capital, the Bowser administration and the ultra-liberal D.C. Council are trying to juggle so many policies during the coronavirus pandemic, City Hall is on a virtual shutdown as well as the virus-related one. (City Administrator Rashad Young also walked away from the job in recent days.)

What’s especially troubling is that it seems none of the Democratic leaders are listening to parents, who need schools reopened so children can learn and play in familiar structured environments, and so parents can go back to work.

Police officers have children. Firefighters have children. Paramedics have children. Doctors, nurses and orderlies have kids. They cannot effectively and efficiently work virtually, and if public schools and day care centers are closed, they cannot get to their job sites.

The SCHOOL Act won’t be voted on before Labor Day for two reasons: Congress is in recess; and the political conventions are on our doorstep. When lawmakers do return, another trillion-dollar stimulus package will perch atop the congressional to-do list.

Wisely, Mr. Paul is prepared to add the SCHOOL Act as an amendment to the next stimulus package and could very well proposal it as a standalone bill.

Of course, the Democrats, who are holding the Democratic National Convention this week, are unlikely to praise Mr. Paul’s efforts at their confab because it’s their show and their show alone. Business as usual. But the Republicans, regardless of their personal thoughts about Mr. Paul. have a gathering coming up too, and the GOP should get behind the SCHOOL Act.

Education should focus on children and families, not the political proclivities of unionized, bureaucratic educrats.

The proposal mandates that money follows the child, not the system, “whether learning in person or remotely, to the public school, private school, or home school they attend.”

By the way, the bill applies to in-school and virtual learning, and the full title is the Support Children Having Open Opportunities for Learning Act of 2020.

Spot on.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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