The following are the prepared remarks of Congressman Bryan Steil (R-WI01) at the school choice rally in Madison on January 28, as provided by Steil’s office and edited for formatting.
Good afternoon, Wisconsin!
I’m excited to join you in today’s celebration. A celebration of providing choice to parents and providing opportunities to students.
Thank you to Speaker Vos, Leader Fitzgerald, Governor Tommy Thompson, and members of the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate for their efforts to support Wisconsin families.
And thank you to Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary Betsy DeVos for coming to Wisconsin to shine a spotlight on the success of our school choice program.
Sending your child to a quality school should not only be an opportunity afforded only to some families. School choice is about giving all families the opportunity to choose the best school for their child.
Today, we celebrate opportunity.
The opportunity for children to receive an excellent education.
The opportunity for students to thrive.
The opportunity for parents to decide what is best for their child.
I attended a parochial school from kindergarten to fourth grade and public school from fifth grade through my senior year at Janesville Craig High School. My parents had the opportunity to choose the best school. I want every parent to have the opportunity to choose what’s best for their child.
Starting under Governor Tommy Thompson, continuing under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin families have taken advantage of school choice for thirty years.
During this academic year, more than 43,000 students participate in Wisconsin’s Choice Programs—more than an 8% increase from last year. In cities like Racine, participation rates increased by nearly 10%.
Why? Because parents want the opportunity to choose a school that is best for their child.
At the start of the school year, I visited St. Catherine’s High School in Racine—one of the schools within the Racine Choice Program. I met a young man at St. Catherine’s, receiving a world-class education who will be graduating this year, thanks to Racine’s school choice program. Ninety percent of the students at St. Catherine’s in Racine are beneficiaries of Wisconsin’s school choice program.
But this young man’s story is not unique. Students attending choice schools graduate and go into the trades and the military, and onto technical colleges and four year universities. As I look at the students sitting before us today, I know we must continue supporting school choice programs.
We have allies in Washington. President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary DeVos have been fighting for opportunity. Fighting for school choice. Fighting for students.
Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration are committed to ensuring every student has the opportunity to succeed. Secretary DeVos has been a vocal leader to bring choice to parents and opportunities to students.
We are honored to have her here today. Please give a warm Wisconsin welcome to United States Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.