WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) spoke this morning at a rally on Capitol Hill for National School Choice Week. A former chairman of the House Education the Workforce Committee, Boehner has been an advocate for school choice and the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program throughout his time in Congress. Following are Boehner’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the nation’s capital. I hope the teachers don’t mind, but I have some homework for you all – it’s the good kind, I think.
“My story is pretty simple: I’m a regular guy with a big job. I’ve got 11 brothers and sisters, grew up working at my dad’s bar. And my parents sent all 12 of us to Catholic schools – I don’t know how they managed it, but I owe everything to that opportunity.
“When I got here in 1991, I wanted to help make sure every student had the same chance that I did. Because education is the great equalizer in America – it can lift up kids who would slip through the cracks.
“But let me tell you, this has been a long struggle. We haven’t always had reasons to hold rallies. You see, the education establishment decided a long time ago that the answer to every problem was more money and more government control. And no matter how much money they poured into that hole, things just got worse.
“So a few of us got together – including Anthony Williams, our mayor here in DC at the time. We said ‘let’s try something different,’ and we were shouted down. We said ‘let’s have parents make these decisions’ – we may as well have been talking about life on Mars. That’s how alien the idea of school choice was – and still is – to the people in power.
“This struggle won’t be won by my generation, but it will be won by yours. Through the Opportunity Scholarship Program, you’ve shown that students thrive when parents are empowered to pick the best schools. You’ve shown how great charter schools are – and how we need more of them. Because of you, we know that school choice can make anything possible.
“That knowledge is worth more than any power Washington has – and this is where your assignment comes in. If you share YOUR story, you can change hearts and minds. And if you can change hearts and minds, you can change the laws. And if you can change the laws, you can change the face of education in this country.
“Education ought to be the civil right of the 21st century – and you have the power to make it happen. Believe it. I have faith in you, and frankly, I’m counting on all of you. So good luck, God bless all of you, and God bless the United States of America.”