Tags: rubio | cruz | education | reform

Rubio, Cruz Take On Education Reform

Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 12:57 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, two of the GOP's possible 2016 presidential contenders, are each stepping up efforts to elevate education reform to the national agenda in a signal that conservatives intend to focus on the issue in the coming year.

According to The Hill, Rubio, the Florida Republican, recently told donors that he plans to focus on education in the coming weeks which will include a major speech likely concentrating on higher education reform.

"That's been his focus for awhile now," a Rubio aide told The Hill.

Last year, Rubio introduced legislation to introduce a national school voucher program as well as a new tax credit to help families apply for a wider range of school options.

Cruz, meanwhile, is joining Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas at a Houston rally Saturday to call for school choice. He, along with other conservatives, wants to expand charter schools and voucher programs.

"School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Every child in America deserves a fair chance at a quality education," the Texas Republican told Houston's ABC television affiliate, according to The Hill.

An aide to Cruz told The Hill that policy reforms to give low-income students a greater variety of educational options has "been one of his strong policy preferences since he first entered the public arena and it's something he'll continue to talk about."

The effort is thought to be part of a larger GOP strategy to appeal to lower- and middle-income voters who voted overwhelmingly against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. Conservatives also believe education reform to be a central part of any viable anti-poverty agenda.

"School choice is the surest way to break this vicious cycle of poverty and we must act fast before it is too late for too many," said House Majority Leader Eric cantor at a speech at the Brookings Institution this month, The Hill reports.

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