In a concerted effort to champion “education freedom,” two influential conservative groups, the Club for Growth and the American Federation for Children, have introduced the Federal Education Freedom Pledge, urging lawmakers to endorse legislation allowing federal funding to follow students. The pledge, currently endorsed by 21 Republican signatories in the House and Senate, aims to advance school choice initiatives at the federal level.
The announcement follows a notable surge in states enacting or expanding school choice programs in 2023, with several red states passing legislation enabling parents to utilize taxpayer funds for private education without stringent eligibility requirements. The Club for Growth and the American Federation for Children have been instrumental in supporting school choice advocates, investing millions in state races during the previous cycle.
Club for Growth President David McIntosh emphasized the momentum gained at the state level, asserting that the federal government should capitalize on widespread parental support for school freedom across the nation. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a key signatory, had previously co-sponsored the Educational Choice for Children Act, allocating $10 billion annually for K-12 scholarships, indicating Republicans’ federal-level interest in advancing school choice.
Senator Ted Cruz, another pledge signatory, has introduced multiple bills, including one facilitating the use of tax-advantaged accounts for elementary and secondary education. The conservative push for school choice aligns with increasing criticism of public schooling, particularly related to issues like “critical race theory” and transgender policies. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to declining public faith in K-12 education, with only 36% expressing satisfaction in a recent Gallup survey.
Tommy Schultz, CEO of the American Federation for Children, characterized the expansion of “educational freedom” in 2023 as a “tidal wave” and expressed enthusiasm about partnering with the Club for Growth to advocate for school freedom at the federal level. As the pledge gains support during National School Choice Week, it underscores the conservative commitment to dismantling barriers and fostering transformative educational opportunities for millions of students.