Cruz pushing for school choice in No Child Left Behind overhaul
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Money: Trump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections | 2M more Americans file new jobless claims, pushing total past 40M | White House to forgo summer economic forecast amid COVID-19, breaking precedent Trump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear projects | Top Dems says State working on new Saudi arms sale | 34-year-old Army reservist ID'd as third military COVID-19 death MORE (R-Texas), a 2016 presidential contender, is pushing to give parents greater choice selecting schools in legislation that would overhaul the Bush-era No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education law.

Cruz called allowing parents to send children to the school of their choice is "a first principle" in any education reform effort.

"Congress must seize this opportunity to eliminate burdensome federal mandates and ineffective programs in order to restore decision making back to parents and students," he said Monday in a statement. "As a first principle for education reform, the Republican Congress should advance school choice for America’s children."

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The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last week unanimously advanced the Every Child Achieves Act, an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act. The proposal would transfer more decision making power back to state and local school districts. 

Cruz said that he will push for the Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Students Act, which he introduced earlier this year with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), to be included in the final education-reform legislation taken up on the Senate floor. 

The Republicans' proposal would allow federal education money to "follow" low-income students if they choose to go to a public or private school, the Texas senator said. 

Democrats have objected to efforts to put federal dollars toward paying for private education, including through vouchers. But Cruz has called school choice "the civil rights issue of our day." 

"School choice is the civil rights issue of our day, and it is long past time for Congress to prioritize the future of our children above the interests of union bosses and bureaucrats," he said. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a rival of Cruz's for the Republican presidential nomination, also voted for the Senate HELP Committee's fix to No Child Left Behind.