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    EXCLUSIVE: Conservative Student Group Mobilizes Thousands Of Activists To Push For School Choice

    daily caller

    By Reagan Reese

    • Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), a conservative student group, is focused on advancing school choice legislation in 14 states through door-to-door knocking and support of lawmakers.
    • YAL is focusing on increasing universal school choice efforts, specifically Education Savings Account (ESA) programs which give tax-payer funds to students outside of the public and charter school system.
    • “There is definitely an organic movement of parents and we’re just trying to add wind to their sails. Our focus will be on things like knocking on thousands and thousands of doors in the districts of state legislators to encourage them to move the bill in their state and to do the right thing,” Brendan Steinhauser, YAL Chief Strategy Officer, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. 

    A conservative student group is investing $1 million dollars to push for school choice legislation in 14 states that would give students funds for an education outside of the public school system, the organization told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

    Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), an organization focused on educating the youth on American electoral politics, is knocking on tens of thousands of doors encouraging parents to get in touch with their state legislators as well as working with lawmakers to advance school choice bills, the organization told the DCNF. The group is focusing on increasing universal school choice efforts, specifically Education Savings Account (ESA) programs which provide families who withdraw their students from public and charter schools with taxpayer funds. 

    “We’re seeing everything from education savings accounts, which is kind of what we really want to see, to universal school choice all the way to tax credit scholarships,” Brendan Steinhauser, YAL Chief Strategy Officer, told the DCNF. “There is definitely an organic movement of parents and we’re just trying to add wind to their sails. Our focus will be on things like knocking on thousands and thousands of doors in the districts of state legislators to encourage them to move the bill in their state and to do the right thing.”

    Creating school choice in Texas has been a main focus for YAL, where hundreds of door knockers have been deployed to encourage constituents to get in touch with their state legislators, the group told the DCNF. Working with YAL, Texas State Sen. Mayes Middleton introduced SB176, a bill that would create a program similar to Arizona’s, which is considered the country’s most expansive school choice system in the country.

    In Arizona, all 1.1 million K-12 students are eligible to receive taxpayer-funded scholarships as a part of the ESA program if they choose to leave or are already outside of the public education system. SB176 would make Texas students in kindergarten, first grade and students currently enrolled in public school eligible for the ESA program.

    “The Texas Bill that YAL is supporting would absolutely be very similar to Arizona,” Randan Steinhauser, YAL’s National School Choice Director, told the DCNF. “It would be unencumbered educational freedom for every single child in the state of Texas.”

    In Virginia, YAL worked with Del. Marie March on HB 1396 which would allow all Virginians, regardless of income or previous schooling, to be eligible for the ESA program, the organization told the DCNF. The legislation is promising because it has the support of Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Randan Steinhauser told the DCNF.

    “Virginia is really exciting because some of the education legislators in that state are longtime supporters of school choice. The governor there has been very strong on this issue,” Steinhauser told the DCNF. “Our goal at this point is to say ‘enough with the carveouts.’ We want every child, no matter their zip code, no matter their parents income, no matter their learning style or their needs, to have access to their state dollars that their family has paid into this tax system. Just because it’s government funded does not mean that it needs to be government run.”

    Similar legislation YAL supported has been introduced in Missouri, New Hampshire, Connecticut and South Carolina, and will be considered in 2023, the organization told the DCNF.

    The support for more expansive school choice legislation has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic when parents became fed up with the public school system, Randan Steinhauser told the DCNF.

    “I would say since 2012, every year we’ve had more and more school choice bills passed,” Steinhauser told the DCNF. “2012 was called the year of school choice, and it just keeps happening. Since COVID-19, we’ve seen even more momentum from the grassroots, from parents, from legislators to push for universal school choice in the form of an education savings account.”

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