by Ric Grenell and Gloria Romero
When students are armed with a world class education, they can break down barriers and achieve their deepest dreams. However, in America today, big government and big unions are preventing students from receiving a quality education by forcing American kids to attend the school closest to them, even when it is totally failing. There is no school competition for kids who can’t afford to opt-out of the shoddy school they are forced to attend. This policy and practice especially impacts poor and minority children. But in our home state of California, we’ve had enough of failing government monopolies. We are launching a ballot initiative that will deliver educational freedom to every child in the state, regardless of where they live or how much income their parents earn.
We have all seen government schools that transition from safe havens for learning and hope into depressing institutions that fall short of educating tomorrow’s leaders. Parents are mad, taxpayers are frustrated, and our teachers are not supported by their union bosses. Nowhere is that reality truer than in states where big unions—like the California Teachers Association—control political decision makers with massive campaign war chests seized from their members’ obligatory dues. That’s why Fix California has launched a project to put a ballot initiative in front of voters in 2022—to emancipate students from the government monopoly on education.
Currently, in California, residents are taxed exorbitantly at every turn, with the ruling party’s promise that those dollars will ostensibly be spent on improving the state. That’s a lie on many fronts, but it’s especially untrue in education where failing government schools continue to be rewarded by more tax dollars and virtually no accountability. Tax dollars are siphoned off in the form of required union dues and are funneled straight into the coffers of corrupt unions financing campaigns of politicians who ensure the gravy train keeps flowing. It is a crooked cycle that has destroyed government education across the country.
Our solution is known as an Education Savings Account (ESA), and it is quite simple.
The ESA reforms how schools are funded by cutting the government and politicians out of the middle and puts the tax money that’s guaranteed to education into a savings account available for any student who opts into the program. Each year approximately $13,000 will be deposited into the student’s account and may be spent on any accredited school. Students will no longer be trapped by arbitrary geographic or socioeconomic boundaries. Every student will have the freedom to pursue a world-class education, whether it be through the conventional government school, private or religious school, or even through accredited home school programs. We want parents to be empowered, not politicians and corrupt union bosses.
Parents are tired of seeing government schools operating as instruments of political indoctrination. Many campuses have harbored anti-American sentiments and, under the guise of teaching an inclusive American history, have force-fed students Critical Race Theory. It’s wrong and it is leaving America divided and at a global disadvantage.
Parents have also watched anti-science decisions that forced school closures due to COVID-19, setting back an entire generation and harming the mental health and physical development of our children.
If there were ever a time to push transformative change, it’s right now. And if there were ever an issue that unites people across political, economic, and ethnic lines, it’s the education of our children.
While this is a simple proposal that will be viewed by many as a reasonable and timely reform, the reality is this will be the boldest shift in state education funding in American history. That’s because it will take the power—and more importantly, the money—out of the hands of California’s cabal of powerbrokers and it will upend the political landscape of California forever. This isn’t just a proposal for those who want to transform education, but it is also one that will destroy the biggest financier of California’s one-party system. And because of this, parents will stand and deliver for their children by passing this ballot initiative.
The actions we take today will shape our children’s futures. If we leave it to the status quo and entrenched special interests, their opportunities will continue to deteriorate. But if we act boldly in a bipartisan manner irrespective of party label, if we think with transformational intent, and if we prioritize students over politics, we will ensure the boundless promise that lies within every child.
We are fighting to Fix California. We ask you to join us. Standing together, we can make transformational change in California, benefiting every child, especially the disadvantaged who are in most need of our help.
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Ric Grenell is a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and Director of National Intelligence. He is the founder of Fix California, the sponsor of Fix California Education. Gloria Romero was the former California Senate Majority Leader who authored several education reforms during her time in the legislature and continues her work to provide quality education to every child in the state.