My name is Karen Lamoreaux. I am the Common Core mom activist that you watched give her state school board a math problem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZEGijN_8R0) and author of No Choice, No Voice: Something’s Rotten to the Core.
Senator Ted Cruz co-sponsored a bill in January of 2015 with another conservative, Senator Mike Lee, known as S306 “Enhancing Educational Opportunities for all Students Act.” In this bill, there is language that classifies home schools as private schools in the Tax Code. The purpose of this is to mirror existing laws in states like Wisconsin, and allow home school families to take a tax credit.
Some will argue that classifying home schoolers in this bill as private schools ties into the school choice mantra of Title I portability, which then allows the US Department of Education to tie strings to home schools and private schools, endangering their freedom and integrity.
As a current home schooler, while I share the general concern about Title I Portability and strings under school choice, I submit the following:
• The change was in the tax code, not USED Code. His senate staff thought that made it safe from USED mandates (albeit a naïve assumption).
• The bill, as written has the support of the Home School Legal Defense Association: http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/National/…/s306/default.asp
• The bill has not gone anywhere and according to the senate staff, is effectively dead, especially after the passage of ESSA in December of 2015. Cruz’s Senate staff have said that Cruz agrees to make sure protections are in place with amendments/language changes, should the bill ever make the agenda in the Finance committee.
• Even if that language passed as currently written (which never happens in the sausage factory of governing), a home school parent would have the option of simply not declaring the tax credit.
• One can also argue that since the incentive comes on the back end as a tax “credit” and not a voucher, no money is actually “exchanged” it would be nearly impossible to enforce any mandates (strings).
• The entire GOP supports school choice and Title I portability as a platform issue. We need to educate them with lessons learned under Race to the Top and Common Core so that they can protect the integrity of private and home schools as they debate the issue.
Why are they trying to hang our best advocate?
Senator Ted Cruz supports home school and opposes Common Core. Please watch this video to hear more on that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp1TsaznHEo
Senator Ted Cruz has openly stated for years he wishes to dismantle the United States Department of Education. Click here to hear him say it. He promises it at every event on the campaign trail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2xNDkmcNsY
During a visit with him, I pointed out that dismantling USED can only be done by Congress, it cannot be an executive action. Given that, what would he do in the meantime, if elected, until we get buy-in from Congress? His response was that he would push for block grants only and begin the process of defunding the agency on the financial side.
The same people who are smearing him for the tax credit are also smearing him for not showing up to vote on ESSA. While I am not excusing missing a vote, (he should have been their shoulder to shoulder with Senator Rand Paul) to accuse him of being in favor of federal education mandates as a result is ignorant at best.
While the Speaker worked to rush the bill through with little debate in December, Cruz pushed for cloture. This means he did his best to stall it and to give it more time for debate and amendments. Congress went against him, as the establishment often does, and hurried to vote. Cruz had a previously scheduled event to attend on the day the vote was scheduled. Rather than cancel on his constituents, and knowing he was outnumbered, he went to the event.
He published a letter explaining his opposition to the bill here on his Senate page: http://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=2549 saying, “The Every Student Succeeds Act unfortunately continues to propagate the large and ever-growing role of the federal government in our education system—the same federal government that sold us failed top-down standards like Common Core. We should be empowering parents and local school districts instead of perpetuating the same tired approach that continues to fail our nation’s children. In many ways, the conference report was worse than the original Senate bill—removing the few good provisions from the House bill that would have allowed some Title I portability for low-income students as well as a parental opt-out from onerous federal accountability standards. The American people expect the Republican majority to do better. And our children deserve better, which is why I cannot support this bill.”
If people want to be angry at him for missing a futile vote that passed 85-12 so be it. But to argue that doing so was a sneaky, conspiratorial move on his part to be shady, is ridiculous.
Cruz is the only candidate currently in the race to take education issues head on and publicly declare his loyalty to home school, his opposition to common core and his desire to see the US Department of Education closed.
I do hope that all of you will do your due diligence and research the many accusations that will fly in this campaign season, rather than rely on click bait news headlines or doomsday bloggers. Ted Cruz has my vote and my trust and I hope you will consider him as your candidate too.
All my best,