GOP Pushes Charter Schools as Congress Works on Education Bills

Monday, 28 Apr 2014 08:01 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Members of Congress have gone back to school as they attempt to pass education-related bills.

During the two-week recess from Washington that ended Monday, House Republicans were encouraged to visit charter schools in their districts, with a push on education coming up, according to the Wall Street Journal.

With healthcare taking up most of the talk surrounding the November elections, education, the Journal reports, will be another crucial cog in both parties' election strategies.

In a memo sent to House Republicans last week, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said one of the House's priorities this spring will be to work on a bill that would grant states the power to use federal money for charter schools. The Journal says a vote on the issue is scheduled for next week.

"We're very strong in our core messages — it's always great to broaden," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy told the Journal. "No matter where you look in America, education has always provided the greatest possibility for opportunity."

The Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act was co-written by Minnesota Republican Rep. John Kline,  chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, and Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat who serves as the party's top member on that committee. The committee passed the bill by a 36-3 margin earlier this month.

"Charter schools really enable parents to make decisions about the type of education that their children are going to get," North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican, told the Journal.

The bill could meet some resistance from the left in the Senate, as some Democrats think the money given to charter schools could affect funding for traditional public schools. That, in turn, could ruffle teachers unions' feathers, and the unions typically support Democratic candidates.

Democrats, on the other hand, plan to emphasize making college more affordable and also lessening the burden that student loan debt places on families.

"Too many students have been priced out of a college education, and one of the most important things we can do to improve the education system is to reverse that trend," Sen. Charles Schumer said, the Journal reported.

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