Senate tax bill could be a game changer for parents frustrated with the public school system

Parents would have more power to choose the K-12 education that best meets the specific needs of their children and reflects the values of their families if an amendment to tax legislation recently approved by the Senate becomes law. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, proposed the amendment, which expands 529 college savings plans.

The Senate and House each passed different tax bills and will need to agree on a single piece of legislation in order to send it to President Trump, who could sign it into law.

The Cruz amendment would allow families to use up to $10,000 a year per child from their 529 college savings accounts to pay K-12 education expenses for public, private, religious or homeschooling expenses. The 529 accounts aren’t subject to federal tax, but currently must be used exclusively for higher education expenses.

Many families have found themselves increasingly at odds with a public education system obsessed with political correctness. There is less focus today on the fundamentals of educating our kids in the basics of reading, writing and math and more on indoctrinating children with a calculated political agenda aimed at hijacking young minds and making extreme social policies the societal norm in our schools and communities.

The Cruz amendment would be a game-changer for families that have felt the public school system has grossly overstepped and seized control of the role of parents. Many parents feel as if they have no recourse due to financial constraints – private school costs money and homeschooling costs both time and money. In families where both parents work, homeschooling isn’t even an option.

But giving families the option to save tax-free for K-12 education expenses gives them hope and a choice. It gives them their power back.

In May 2015 the school board in Fairfax County, Virginia – the 10th largest school district in the U.S. – voted to add “gender identity” to its nondiscrimination policy. There was virtually no public input beforehand and no parental notification that this change was about to happen until it was too late.

There was no partnering with parents and absolutely no willingness to hear from the moms and dads of the kids that this change would affect. In fact, it was just the opposite. The school board essentially rammed the policy change through, even though outraged parents of all political persuasions voiced objections.

It’s ironic that a school board, which is supposed to be an advocate for children, completely shut out the biggest advocates of children – their parents.

Not only did the policy pass with very little input from parents, it passed without any regulations in place to govern its implementation. The country’s 10th largest school district, in the backyard of the nation’s capital, was flying blind.

The policy would not only allow kids to use the locker rooms and bathrooms of their choosing, based on how they identify (the controversy that gets the most media attention); it also called into question shared hotel rooms when traveling for athletic events.

If a boy identifies as a girl and plays on a girls’ sports team, can he share a hotel room with girls?  Under the policy such rooming on the road was not only permitted, but parents did not have to be notified. These are the types of questions parents had that nobody wanted to answer, which is an answer in itself.

Worse, under the policy, a second-grade teacher could leave school for the weekend on Friday afternoon as a female and walk in Monday morning as a male, and parents would have no authority to remove their child from the classroom, without also removing the child from the school.

Because transgender people have protected class status under this ruling, any attempt by a parent to opt a child out of a class with a transgender teacher is the same as opting a child out of a class because the teacher is African-American, Asian or Latino.

In vote-rich suburbs such as Northern Virginia, these policies raise concerns among many parents who’ve never been political. The objections raised by Fairfax parents eventually led to the controversial policy being put on hold – for now. So the Cruz amendment couldn’t come along at a better time.

The amendment is a huge win for families and a huge wake-up call for politically correct politicians on local school boards with extreme social agendas.

If parents no longer feel they are held hostage to a system that doesn’t value their role, and they use their 529 savings for an education option where they are respected and heard, that means less government funding for local schools.

This is where extreme overreach of an extracurricular political agenda, which has no business driving decisions made on behalf of our kids, slams into a brick wall of fiscal reality.

The Washington extremists know this too, which is why Vice President Mike Pence had to come to Capitol Hill to cast the tie-breaking vote on the Cruz amendment.

Why would you not want parents to choose what to do with their money for their kids?

Sen. Cruz’s amendment empowers parents who may not otherwise have options. This puts the power back in the hands of parents to choose what’s best for their families and gives them the final say when it comes to their kids’ education. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that’s best for every child. Quite simply, the Cruz amendment puts parents back in charge.

Lauren DeBellis Appell was deputy press secretary for then-Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in his successful 2000 re-election campaign, as well as assistant communications director for the Senate Republican Policy Committee (2001-2003).