As a child I wanted to be a teacher so that I could share my joy of learning with others. I believe education is key to success and students should receive learning instruction that best fits their specific needs. Every student is different and has a unique set of characteristics and different learning styles.

It is not fair for students to be left behind if their school is not serving their individual needs. We have heard of students with disabilities falling behind because a school is not equipped to meet the student’s specific needs. Not every school is right for every student; thus, it is imperative that we give families the choice to send their child to the school that works best for them.

This is why I was proud to introduce H.R. 5959, the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individual and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act, which Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) has introduced in the Senate.

The CHOICE Act would allow parents to be in control of their children’s education by expanding school choice programs and by creating greater awareness of different types of programs. Further, this bill would permit parents of children with disabilities to use public or private funds to pay for the cost of their children attending a private school by supplementing those funds with federal special education funds.

As a 24-year Army veteran, I am proud that this legislation would also establish a five-year pilot program within the Department of Defense that would award scholarships enabling military-dependent students who live on military installations to attend the public or private elementary or secondary schools their parents choose.

A student’s zip code should not determine which school they attend. Parents should be the ones to decide if their child should attend a traditional public, public charter, magnet, private, online, hybrid, or home school.

The pandemic has taught us that educational needs for students are fundamental and varying. We have seen students fall behind because they are not in the classroom with their peers at the same time we have also seen other students thrive because of online classes.

Expanding school choice is a top priority of mine in Congress and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Education and Labor Committee to ensure all students have the tools to succeed.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee and a resident of Ottumwa who currently represents Iowa’s Second District in the United States House of Representatives.