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Bipartisan Campaign Launches To Pass California School Choice Initiative After Failed Recall

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Parents who were reluctant to vote for a Republican governor but desire change may be willing to support the school choice proposal.


LOS ANGELES — Former Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell is teaming up with former California Democratic Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero to pass a school choice initiative on the ballot next year.

Sponsored by Grenell’s issue-advocacy group “Fix California,” the proposal outlined under “Fix California Education” establishes Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) providing $13,000 annually to students to enroll in K-12 institutions of their own choosing, whether it be public, private, or homeschool. Up to $60,000 in unused dollars can then be used towards a certificate of higher education at a university or vocational school.

“It realizes the promise of education by saying you’re not going to be trapped by zip code,” Romero told The Federalist, “which to me, is the five biggest digits of separation that keep children entrapped in failing schools.”

Under the status quo, California spends $22,000 annually per child in its funding of a deteriorating public education system ruled by teachers unions promoting curricula steeped in leftist agendas on race and gender. California public schools place 40th in the rankings kept by U.S. News and World Report.

The bipartisan school choice initiative, Romero said, would empower parents and put an end to the “black hole of education where we just send out money with no accountability.”

To pass, organizers first need to gather more than 997,000 signatures on a petition between now and April. Once enough signatures are verified, the “Education Savings Account Act” will appear on the November ballot for voter approval.

While primarily focused on offering kids a lifeline out of failing schools, the pair railed against the public abuse of “government schools operating as instruments of political indoctrination” in a joint op-ed announcing the initiative.

“Many campuses have harbored anti-American sentiments and, under the guise of teaching an inclusive American history, have force-fed students Critical Race Theory,” they wrote last month. “It’s wrong and it is leaving America divided and at a global disadvantage.”

Last week, The Federalist broke news of a San Jose school district which recommended use of witchcraft on political dissidents who uttered the forbidden creed, “All Lives Matter.”

“Hexing people is an important way to get out anger and frustration,” read a district-sponsored Black Lives Matter resource guide. “Make a list of specific people who have been agents of police terror or global brutality. This list can be wide-ranging, from small micro aggressions to larger perpetrators (i.e., people who say ‘all lives matter’ to the police officers who arrest non-violent protestors to George Zimmerman).”

As education becomes the latest focal point in the culture war, buoyed by East Coast elections where Republicans pledged to parental choice turned Virginia red for the first time in more than a decade, the grassroots movement may be bearing fruit in liberal California. Despite a wide-margin loss in the September recall effort of Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, the recall itself, where about a third of signatures came from Democrats and independents, signaled an appetite for change.

Voters frustrated with schools who were reluctant to go as far as elect a Republican governor may be willing to pass education reform in the absence of a new governor. Newsom will appear on the ballot for a third time next year in search of a full second term.

While she endorsed Republican radio host Larry Elder in the recall contest, Romero told The Federalist that “Fix California Education” was going to be launched regardless of the outcome.

“[Education] should mobilize parents and voters and Democrats and Republicans,” Romero said, adding that she harbored skepticism Republicans would topple Newsom in the recall election to begin with. School choice, however, an issue on which she’s diverged from her party platform for more than a decade in the statehouse and beyond, she says “should reinforce parents of all political affiliations that they should park their party label at the door.”