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School Choice Will Put Meritocracy Back in American School System: Rep. Burgess Owens

As schools go back to full-time in-person learning, many parents are paying closer attention to what their children are learning and even attending school board meetings to ask questions and protest policies that allow indoctrination with transgender ideology, sexually explicit graphic novels, and Marxist critical race theory in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Many Republican lawmakers are rallying behind parents and believe that the American public education system needs to be made accountable to parents.

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) said America’s education system needs to prioritize the needs of the students, and school choice would allow meritocracy to improve education for all.

Owens said he is for the idea of tax dollars following the child and parents having school choice.

“Just imagine those dollars in a backpack, and that parents [can pick a school] based on the school’s focus, based on how they respect my child, based on the values,” Owens told NTD’s “Capitol Report” program in an Oct. 3 interview. “What that does is it gives us a meritocracy.”

Other aspects of society operate on a meritocracy, Owens said, especially in business. He said the best hotels and restaurants get the best income, based on the quality.

“[School choice] will eliminate those systems that are not working for our kids,” he said. “And we need to be able to eliminate the bad and highlight the good.”

Burgess said many inner-city schools are not producing literate students, especially in lower-income black neighborhoods.

“In 2017, 75 percent of black boys in the state of California did not pass standard reading and writing tests. That is a disaster. You have Baltimore districts which have zero percent proficiency in math,” said Owens.

“The problem is, they’ve been getting away with it,” he added.

Burgess criticized the teachers unions for prioritizing adults and their needs over the children’s needs.

“That’s because of adults who care more about adults than their kids. That should be a warning signal to all of us,” he continued.

None of our kids are being educated. None of our kids have been taught to love our country, to love each other with that empathy,” said Owens. “We’re in a place now in terms of education that we can disrupt the system that’s not been working for over 170 years.”

A screenshot from Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) website shows the proposed Parents Bill of Rights. (Rep. Kevin McCarthy).

House GOP members have been speaking to parents in their communities and have heard they want quality education and have created the Parents Bill of Rights, which lays out the Republicans’ vision for education by putting parents back in the driver’s seat, said Owens.

“We need to make sure that meritocracy fits in here, and we can pick the very best for our child. And with that, those who don’t give our nation what we need, then they’ll go out of business,” said Owens.

More and more states are moving toward school choice, with Arizona being the latest state to enact a law that allows families to register with a yearly fund, starting at $7,000, to use for a broad array of educational needs. Those choices include public school, private school, or home school.

“If public schools work, that’s great. If it doesn’t, private schools should be an option. If that doesn’t [work], homeschool. We can have all different types of options,” Owens said. “It’s all about our children, not about the institution.”


Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.

Steve Lance


Steve Lance is the host of Capitol Report, a political news show based in Washington aimed at providing a direct channel to the voices and people who shape policy in America. Capitol Report features all of the political news of the day with expert interviews and analysis.

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