Secretary DeVos – Full Remarks at DC OSP Celebration


Thank you so much, Assistant Secretary Brogan. Before I get started, students here:
I’d like you to stand up a minute. Just stand up and stretch those legs. Maybe move your arms a little bit. Just move around a little bit.
I know this is a long program, isn’t it? But we are so thankful you’re here and I’m so happy to be here with you today. I especially want to thank Congressman Harris, Congresswoman Foxx, Senator Johnson, and Congressman Norman for your
leadership on the hill and your commitment to this program. We are grateful for each of you and your leadership and support. Parents and students, thank you for sharing
your stories. You’re why we’re here. And students here, you’re why we’re here. You inspire all of us to keep fighting alongside of
you for your futures, and ours. I am blessed and encouraged to visit with
students and families whose lives have been changed by the Opportunity Scholarship Program – by
education freedom. And I am highly motivated by the students
and families who don’t yet have that freedom. Education freedom is what motivated my friend – our
friend – Virginia Walden Ford. Her son’s future hung in the balance. We are so grateful for Virginia’s faith, for
her courage, her perseverance, and her example. So, how exciting it was to see Virginia’s story and the stories of first families who joined her in the DC fight – more than 20 years ago – dramatized for the silver screen. And how sad it was to see folks in Tinseltown
turn a blind eye to a story ready-made for Hollywood. “Miss Virginia” should be in bright lights
on every marquee across America. But no surprise, Hollywood elites let their politics get
in the way of advancing the greatest civil rights struggle today. Sure, they say they’re “pro-public school,”
and then they choose to send their own children elsewhere. They have a choice. Well, Virginia’s story is a poignant one. It powerfully reminds us all that parents
want better for their children, and they’ll do anything for them. And here in our Nation’s capital, parents
will persist, they will persevere, and they will win! Because their children win with freedom. That’s why 94 percent of the parents who
use scholarships for them are happy with their decision. They like that their children are safe. They like that their children are learning
and achieving in school. They like education freedom, and they want
more of it. And that’s why we’re here today. We’re here to tell all the folks on the
hill that the Opportunity Scholarship Program works. Empowering parents and students works. Freedom works. Now it’s simply common sense to us. But to the bullies whose goal is to suppress
education freedom, it’s not. They’ll claim this great program is a threat
to public schools. Well, since we know it equally funds traditional
and charter public education, and we know that all students do better because of it,
the program is clearly not a threat. It’s not a threat to anyone except perhaps the
bullies. We’ve seen them protect their interests at
the expense of kids. Just ask the 216 aspiring students who had
their scholarships and their education freedom taken from them in 2009. But we’re not here for those bullies. We’re here for these students! We’re here for all the students who are waiting and hoping for a scholarship. Those who need an Opportunity Scholarship. Those who need education freedom. This Administration trusts parents and believes
in students. We’ve fought for this program and now more
students are receiving scholarships. Do you know that today more than half of D.C.
students attend a school other than their government-assigned one? Washington is one of the most choice-rich
environments in the country, and students – no matter where they go to school – are better
because of it. But there is still so much unmet demand. We can’t stop fighting until every student
in this city – and across the country – is free. Their freedom and their futures are not political
footballs. There is strong bipartisan support for this
bill. And I’m so encouraged to see that. This is not a partisan issue. This transcends left or right, red or blue. This is about each student’s future, and it’s
ultimately about our country’s future. Our future is won with freedom. And freedom belongs to all of us. Let’s fight for it! Thank you so much for being here.

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