Sounding the charge against a Democratic "attack" on school choice, including by the newly elected New York City mayor, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor vowed Wednesday to protect charter schools and voucher programs.
Calling out New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for promising to charge rent at some charter schools
and for considering a moratorium on letting them share space in public schools, Cantor said he'd defend an "education revolution" to give parents and students educational options, Politico reported.
"Right now, school choice is under attack," Cantor said at the Brookings Institution on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's declaration
of a "war on poverty in America."
"It is up to us in this room and our allies across the nation to work for and fight for the families and students who will suffer the consequences if school choice is taken away," Cantor said.
"Our committees in the House will remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure no one from the government stands in the schoolhouse door between any child and a good education," he said, adding that de Blasio's policies "could devastate the growth of education opportunity" by taking choices away for students who often struggle in mainstream public schools.
But de Blasio, who also intends to push for a tax on the wealthy
to pay for a universal pre-kindergarten program, called the GOP agenda "a dangerous philosophy that turns its back on public education" and that has failed "many times before," Politico reported.
"What public school parents want — and I know because I'm one of them — are real investments that lift up all our kids," de Blasio told Politico. "That will take big, bold, progressive ideas. And that's exactly what the people of New York City just voted for."
Cantor, however, stressed that parents often feel charters and private schools are safer and better than their neighborhood public schools — and said they should have the right to choose between them.
"For far too long, the federal government's approach to fixing our education system has been based on two principles: spend more money and give more control to Washington," he said, citing a student he met in Philadelphia who "has finally been given a chance to pursue his dreams" in a charter program.
Though Politico reported the Philadelphia charter mentioned by Cantor is failing, the lawmaker insisted the program offers a "safe place to learn" and said it showed a "genuine commitment to empower each student with the tools necessary to succeed."
Cantor also lavished praise on Louisiana's school voucher program
, and blasted the Obama administration for trying to block it.
This kind of attack on an effective program that helps everyone — providing opportunity scholarships to kids of every background — is political payback to those who oppose school choice," Cantor said. "They see school choice as a threat, and they are right. School choice is a threat to the status quo."
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