Speeches And Statements
March 9, 2000



Statement of

  • Mr. Speaker, as this is Texas Public Schools Week, I wanted to take a moment to offer my thanks to the parents and teachers of my district, and those across Texas, for all of their hard work to make sure our children get the best education possible.

  • Unfortunately, Congress and the federal bureaucracy continue to strip authority away from parents, teachers and local school boards. While Congress promises the American people that expansions of federal control over local schools will create an educational utopia, the fact is that the federal education bureaucracy has only increased the difficulties of educating the next generation and diverted resources away from the classroom. For example, while the federal government provides less than 10% of education funding, many school districts find that more than 50% of their paperwork is generated by federal mandates and the hoops local school officials must jump through in order to get Washington to return a ridiculously small portion of taxpayer money to local public schools.

  • More than thirty years of centralized control of education has resulted in failure and frustrated parents. It is time for Washington to return control of the nation's school system to the people who best know the needs of the children --local communities and parents. The key to doing so is to return control of the education dollar back to the American people.

  • In order to give control of education back to the people, I have introduced the "Family Education Freedom Act" (HR 935). This bill provides parents with a $3,000 per-child tax credit for K-12 education expenses.

  • The "Family Education Freedom Act" fulfills the American people's goal of greater control over their children's education by simply allowing parents to keep more of their hard-earned money to spend on education, rather than forcing them to send it to Washington to support education programs reflective of the values and priorities of Congress and the federal bureaucracy.

  • The "Family Education Freedom Act" will help parents who send their children to public schools strengthen their child's public education. Parents may use the credit to improve schools by helping to finance the purchase of education tools such as computers or extracurricular activities such as music programs. Parents of public school students may also wish to use the credit to pay for special services for their children.

  • I have also introduced the "Teacher Tax Cut" (HR 937), which provides a $1,000 tax credit for every teacher in America. Quality education is impossible without quality teaching. Yet, America's teachers remain underpaid compared to other professionals. Adding insult to injury, teachers often have to use their own money to purchase supplies for their classroom. For example, according to the Association of Texas Professional Educators, many Texas teachers spent between $50-300 of their own money on school supplies during the 1998-99 school year!

  • Since America's teachers are underpaid because they are overtaxed, the best way to raise teacher take-home pay is to reduce their taxes. Raising teachers' take-home pay via a $1,000 tax credit lets teachers know the American people and the Congress respect their work and encourages high-quality people to enter, and remain in, the teaching profession.

  • I have also introduced the "Education Improvement Tax Cut" (HR 936), which provides a $3,000 tax credit for cash or in-kind donations to public schools to support academic or extracurricular programs. This legislation encourages local citizens and community leaders to help strengthen local public schools. The "Education Improvement Tax Cut Act" also insures that education funding matches the needs of individual communities. People in one community may use this credit to purchase computers, while children in another community may, at last, have access to a quality music program because of community leaders who took advantage of the tax credit contained in this bill.

  • Mr. Speaker, my education agenda of returning control over the education dollar to the American people is the best way to strengthen public education. First of all, unlike plans to expand the federal education bureaucracy, my bills are free of "guidelines" and restrictions that dilute the actual number of dollars spent to educate a child. In addition, the money does not have to go through federal and state bureaucrats, each of whom gets a cut, before it reaches the classroom. Returning power over the education dollar will also free public school teachers, administrators and principals from having to comply with numerous federal mandates. Instead, school personnel and officials may work with parents and other concerned citizens to make sure all children are receiving the best possible education.

  • In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I once again extend my thanks to all those who are involved in the education of our nation's children. I also call upon my colleagues to help strengthen public schools by returning control over the education dollar to parents and other concerned citizens, as well as raising teacher salaries by cutting their taxes, so that the American people can once again make the American education system the envy of the world.