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Lankford, Scott Empower Parents to Address Kids’ Learning Setbacks from COVID-19 School Closures

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) to introduce the Raising Expectations with Child Opportunity Vouchers for Educational Recovery (RECOVER) Act to empower parents to solve the learning loss crisis facing today’s students. Joining Lankford and Scott in introducing the legislation were Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). Representative Burgess Owens (R-UT) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Kids in the lowest performing schools and in the lowest income communities were the most affected by the COVID-19 school shutdowns; they need education options and they need them now,” said Lankford. “Parents should have the authority and the opportunity to choose the best education options for their kids, regardless of their zip code. Our bill takes unspent COVID-19-related education funds and allows parents to find the right education opportunities to fit their kids’ needs. These kids can’t just wait, and they don’t have a second chance at education.”

“States and school districts have only spent a fraction of the education funds they received through the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan—leaving kids helpless as they struggle to recover from academic setbacks,” said Scott. “It’s clear that big-government bailouts won’t solve our education crisis. That’s why the RECOVER Act allows those funds to flow to a much better steward: parents. I urge all of my colleagues to join me on this bill that would empower parents to help their kids thrive once again.”

“As pandemic learning loss continues to crush the academic progress of millions of students across the country, only 7 percent of the so-called solution—$122 billion in American Rescue Plan funding—has been spent,” said Owens. “Not only is our nation falling behind as a leader in education, but our one-size-fits-all system is leaving our most vulnerable kids behind and pushing parents out of the driver’s seat. I am proud to introduce the RECOVER Act with Senator Scott to bring parents off the sidelines of their kid’s education by allowing states to reallocate billions in unspent dollars so that low-income students can receive the targeted support they need to reach their God-given potential.”

Lankford’s bill would allow states and school districts to use unspent funds from Democrats’ American Rescue Plan Act to issue Child Opportunity Scholarships directly to parents. These scholarships, targeted for low-income families, could be put toward educational opportunities, including:

  1. Tutoring services;
  2. Private school tuition;
  3. Books and other curriculum materials;
  4. Testing fees; and
  5. Educational therapies for children with disabilities.

Lankford remains a strong school-choice and parental rights advocate that puts parents at the helm of their kids’ education. Recently, he urged the Department of Education to reconsider proposed rules redefining the Charter School Program, stripping parents of their ability to choose the best school for their child. He stood firmly for parental rights and school choice when he called for the Senate to immediately pass his resolution to support parents having the freedom to choose the best educational environment for their kids and remain in control of whether or not they want their children exposed to “woke” ideologies at school, including Critical Race Theory and others. Democrats blocked the Senate from unanimously standing up for American parents. Lankford introduced the resolution to recognize the need to stand up for parents’ choices in their children’s education during National School Choice Week earlier this year. 

Lankford introduced a resolution supporting parents’ rights after the Biden Administration politicized and weaponized the Justice Department by threatening to use federal law enforcement resources to intimidate and silence parents who speak out to protect their children from harmful curricula like Critical Race Theory being pushed by Biden and the far left. Lankford joined his colleagues to send a letter demanding answers from US Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on reports that he played a key role in orchestrating a letter from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that called concerned parents “domestic terrorists.”