The Hope Scholarship Bill Advances

The nation’s best school choice bill, that would take West Virginia from 50th to 1st in the ability for parents to choose the best option for their student’s education, has hit significant snags.

Parents should be able to opt for a better education choice if they believe another form of education would benefit their children. The tax money for education belongs to parents, not the school systems, and that money should metaphorically travel with the student wherever they are educated: public, private, homeschooled, or public charter schools for special needs or gifted or challenged students.

Virtually ALL the House Republicans campaigned in support of President Trump. And if you recall, one of President Trump’s top campaign promises was more public school choice for our children. But on the final passage of the amazing Hope Scholarship bill, the Republicans lost 20 votes! President Trump and West Virginia primary voters do not approve of that embarrassing number.

Why so many NO votes? Union Republicans were unwilling to cross the teachers union to support it. Then there were a few more who, like on many bills, forget that they represent the interests of about 15,000 voters, and instead vote the way their uncle or wife wants them to. And on the final House vote, a couple of delegates were throwing a tantrum because their preferred amendment to the bill failed. So they ignored all the good in the bill and selfishly voted against it.

But perhaps the bigger issue is that the moderate Republican leadership in the House is, at best, agnostic about robust, universally-applicable public school choice, and at worst, a hindrance to a reasonable phase-in schedule.

In an unexpected move, the moderate Republican House leadership forced the Hope Scholarship bill to run the entire bill-making gauntlet twice.

The House Republicans’ process for passing the Hope Scholarship school choice bill.

And the Hope Scholarship bill may not have been introduced at all if not for former Wayne County elected delegate Derrick Evans. He assertively asked for a show of hands in public support during the December 2020 Republican Caucus retreat at the Stonewall Jackson Resort. Evans saw 60+ members of the rank and file House Republican delegates join him in support. The Speaker and leadership were put on the spot and basically forced to scramble to get back in front of the school choice parade. West Virginia’s children will one day thank Evans.