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Event Summary


How can all US children be given equal opportunity to excel academically? At AEI on Tuesday, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Tim Scott (R-SC) unveiled new school choice legislation that was a Republican response to income inequality. The senators argued that offering students scholarships to attend better schools that better meet their personal needs grants those students a greater opportunity to succeed.

Through Senator Alexander’s Scholarship for Kids Act and Senator Scott’s Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act, the federal government would take a new role in providing students a quality education — a role that would encourage states to expand school choice and education options without imposing new federal mandates.

The senators stressed that these proposals aim to give parents more choice in deciding which schools are best for their children. Specifically, the Scholarship for Kids Act would enable states to use nearly $24 billion in existing federal education funds to expand school choice options and empower low-income parents. And the CHOICE Act would extend school choice options through portable Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds, expand school opportunities for military families, and build on the DC Opportunity Scholarship. Although the senators admitted that the bills have met mixed reactions, they look to their bills to offer parents more educational opportunities for their children.
–Lauren Empson

Event Description

Expanding school choice for America’s low-income families is rapidly emerging as the foundation of a conservative agenda to address poverty and inequality. Despite the billions of federal dollars that have been poured into the nation’s education systems, the US has not attained the high student performance one would expect from such a significant investment. And not all children are given an equal opportunity to receive a quality education. It is time we reconsider how to give all children the opportunity to excel academically, and consumer choice can be one part of the solution for how we can better spend our education dollars.

At this event, held during National School Choice Week, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Tim Scott (R-SC) will unveil new federal legislation that intends to encourage innovative state efforts to expand school choice and educational opportunity without imposing new federal mandates.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

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10:25 AM

10:40 AM
Opening Remarks:
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

10:45 AM
Frederick M. Hess, AEI

10:48 AM
Lamar Alexander, US Senate (R-TN)
Tim Scott, US Senate (R-SC)

11:05 AM
Lamar Alexander, US Senate (R-TN)
Frederick M. Hess, AEI
Tim Scott, US Senate (R-SC)

11:15 AM
Question-and-Answer Session

11:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Lauren Empson at [email protected], 202.862.5859.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Lamar Alexander represents Tennessee, serving as the ranking member of the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He is the only Tennessean to ever be popularly elected both governor and US senator. He has served as US education secretary and University of Tennessee president and has chaired both the National Governors Association and President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Americans Outdoors. When elected to the Senate in 2002, Alexander had spent more adult years in the private sector than in the public sector. In 1972, he cofounded a Nashville law firm. In 1987 he, his wife, and three others founded Corporate Child Care Inc., which became publicly traded in 1997 (NASDAQ) and later merged with Bright Horizons Inc., creating the world’s largest provider of worksite daycare. Three times between 2007 and 2012, his colleagues elected Sen. Alexander chairman of the Senate Republican Conference — the third-ranking Republican position in the Senate. In 1972, he cofounded a Nashville law firm. He is the ranking Senate Republican overseeing education, labor and health, and energy appropriations. He is a classical and country pianist and the author of seven books including “Six Months Off” (William Morrow & Co., 1988), the story of his family’s life in Australia after he was governor.

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 10 books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His most recent books include “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, 2012), “The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future” (Basic Books, May 2010), “Gross National Happiness” (Basic Books, 2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice-Hall, 2008), and “Who Really Cares” (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

Frederick M. Hess is resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI. An educator, political scientist, and author, Hess studies a range of K–12 and higher education issues. He pens the Education Week blog Rick Hess Straight Up and has authored influential books on education including “Cage-Busting Leadership” (Harvard Education Press, 2013), “The Same Thing Over and Over” (Harvard University Press, 2010), “Education Unbound” (ASCD, 2010), “Common Sense School Reform” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), “Revolution at the Margins” (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), and “Spinning Wheels” (Brookings Institution Press, 1998). He has edited widely cited volumes on education philanthropy, urban school reform, how to stretch the school dollar, education entrepreneurship, what we have learned about the federal role in education reform, and No Child Left Behind. He also serves as executive editor of Education Next; as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program; on the Review Board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education; and on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 4.0 Schools, and the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence. A former high-school social studies teacher, Hess has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Harvard University.

Tim Scott
was named to the US Senate in 2013, filling the seat vacated by former Senator Jim DeMint. Scott is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and the Senate Special Committee on Aging. He is also the ranking member on the Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion Subcommittee. Scott focuses on reducing federal spending, job creation, economic growth, and veterans’ affairs. In his first 100 days as senator, he worked with colleagues to introduce a balanced budget amendment and was an original cosponsor of a bill to permanently ban the earmarking process. Scott has also taken a strong stance in support of right-to-work states, and has been an outspoken critic of the president’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. He has also introduced an amendment to empower federal workers to choose whether they would like union dues taken out of their paychecks. Before his work in the Senate, Scott served South Carolina’s First District in the US House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013. During his time in the House, Scott was one of the two members of the 2010 freshman class chosen to sit at the House Republican leadership table. Previously, Scott served on Charleston County Council for 13 years, including four terms as chair. He also served for two years as chairman of the Freshman Caucus and as House whip in the South Carolina House of Representatives. Previously, he was the owner of Tim Scott Allstate and partner of Pathway Real Estate Group.

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