Grant kids a choice

Ray Haynes is the California state assemblyman, R-Murrieta

I have worked with parents, district administrators and elected representatives from the Compton area for the past 10 years to attempt to improve the failing educational system in the Compton Unified School District.

The first attempt to solve the seemingly intractable problems was to have the state superintendent of public instruction take over the district and attempt rehabilitation. This, like most top-down solutions, was a complete failure.

So, I asked the parents of Compton what they wanted. They said they wanted more options. Together, we developed a solution based on the widely successful Cal Grant scholarship program. This proposal, Assembly Bill 349, would allocate funds for a pilot scholarship program for low-income families in Compton. This program would provide Cal Grants for Kids scholarships to be used at public and private schools inside or outside the district boundaries.

These scholarships would give parents and students the one thing that 30 years of incompetent administration—10 of which were led by the state—have failed to provide but that is needed most: choice.

We provide Cal Grants to college kids because low-income families need extra help to pay for a college education. I am just one of many who have benefited from this program. Many low-income families are unable to take advantage of this program because their local schools have failed them. They can’t get admitted to college because they graduate from bad high schools.

Cal Grants for Kids bridges that gap. By providing a way to obtain a quality primary education, we can make sure that government does not fail them in college.

Unfortunately, rather than looking fairly at this proposal, Democrats on the Assembly Education Committee couldn’t get past the fact that it was authored by someone with an “R” instead of a “D” behind his name. Instead of listening to the dozens of citizens who’d come to request this bill be passed, the Democratic members dismissed this bill summarily.

Despite this setback, I will continue to work with parents and community leaders who want to give their children an equal chance at an education but who continue to be ignored by their elected officials. Government has failed these people for more than 30 years, and the time has come for government to admit its failure and provide these kids with better options.