WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) today joined students, parents, teachers and advocates including former WNBA Star Lisa Leslie at the “Put Kids First” celebration in support of National School Choice Week at Friendship Chamberlain Elementary School:
“Good morning. I want to thank you and thank Friendship for having us here today. I am here to say that we believe in you. All of the students here, you represent our future and that’s why we are here. We want to make sure each and every one of you has an opportunity to learn each and every day with a quality education, with great teachers, with supporting administrators so that you can have access to every bit of opportunity that America provides. That’s why we are here.
“School choice is an issue that has been a real priority for me and will continue to be. I believe that education is the foundation for success in our country, and we cannot be a great country without great schools. That’s what school choice is about. School choice is about saying to all of you and your parents, if you don’t fit in the school you have, if that school is not meeting your needs, you and your family should have the right to choose one that does, regardless of who you are or where you come from.
“I am delighted to be here and think that the District of Columbia has demonstrated that school choice can work because what it says to your parents is that schools are going to have a report card too. If schools aren’t performing they are going to have to correct that performance or they are going to be out of the game because you deserve the best as students in America today. School choice in the District of Columbia is one that really stands out nationally.
“I’ve spent a lot of time going across the country as well as in my district at home in Richmond, Virginia to look at what school choice can do for all of our kids. Here in D.C. we have something called the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship and what that does is allows many of you to have even more of a choice if that’s what you choose. Again, we need to empower every single child no matter who you are, no matter where you come from to get the best education so you can have the best future.
“Now, unfortunately there are some who don’t necessarily share our enthusiasm and that’s why we are here today. I want to thank the association, I want to thank Lisa Leslie, I want to thank Kevin and all who are involved to make this their priority for National School Choice Week. You’ve seen the Justice Department unfortunately has taken on a school choice program in Louisiana. It has somehow come up with design that essentially will regulate their school choice program to death in that state. I’ve been there in Orleans Parish and I’ve seen the success just like I see the success here in D.C. Those kids there deserve every bit of the right to a quality education as you do, as all kids do.
“We have recently seen the success that New York City, the largest school system in our country, has demonstrated in the rankings of progress of school choice. The Brookings Institution puts out an index every year and New York City, the largest system in our country, got high marks in terms of the innovation and access to a quality education for all kids. It’s largely due to its school choice system and public charter school choice as well. Unfortunately, the new mayor in that city has made it his business to begin to send signals that he's going to put a real damper on the success of that program. We’ve all got to speak out. We can’t deny the kids of that city the opportunity for a brighter future.
“We look forward to continuing to make sure we keep in touch with all of you, your families, the administrators, the folks behind the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, all the public charter schools in this city. Let’s make this model for what the rest of the country can do.”
View additional photos from the event HERE.