Why Underwood challenger Gryder supports school choice

  • Republican Scott Gryder and Democrat Lauren Underwood are running for Illinois' 14th Congressional District seat.

    Republican Scott Gryder and Democrat Lauren Underwood are running for Illinois' 14th Congressional District seat.

 
 
Updated 11/3/2022 3:47 PM

Republican congressional candidate Scott Gryder said he supports GOP-backed legislation that promotes school choice and seeks to expand transparency regarding curriculum and reading materials.

Gryder, of Oswego, is hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville in the 14th District. His comments on educational issues come as schools and libraries in the Chicago area and across the U.S. are experiencing a surge in challenges to books and teaching materials because of gender and sexual content.

 

Underwood campaign spokesman Ronnie Cho accused Gryder of parroting "fearmongering" GOP talking points.

Gryder and Underwood spoke about a variety of domestic and foreign issues in questionnaires for the Daily Herald and in subsequent interviews.

In his closing remarks during a joint Daily Herald interview with Underwood, Gryder said people need someone in Congress who will increase transparency "so parents know what their students are being taught and where their tax dollars are being spent."

When later asked in an email to elaborate, Gryder backed legislation called the Educational Choice for Children Act that would offer tax credits to people or companies making charitable contributions to organizations that provide scholarships to elementary and secondary school students in public or private schools or who are home-schooled.

The proposal also would ban governmental control of organizations that grant scholarships. It's been backed by groups that are critical of public schools and promote school choice, according to the news release that unveiled the legislation.

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Gryder said the bill, if enacted, would empower parents "to make the best educational decisions for their children," including sending them to private school.

"Parents should have had a choice," said Gryder, the Kendall County Board chair.

Versions of the legislation were introduced in the House and Senate in June. Both only are backed by Republicans; neither has moved out of committee.

Gryder said he also supports legislation introduced by Republican U.S. Rep. Julia Letlow of Louisiana dubbed the "Parents Bill of Rights Act."

Among other mandates, it would require educational agencies to: notify parents of a variety of rights, including reviewing school budgets; publicly post class curricula; provide access to a list of the books and other reading materials in their libraries; and let parents address school boards on educational issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Letlow's bill has 114 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republicans. It was referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor in November 2021 and hasn't progressed.

Additionally, Gryder bemoaned the in-person closures of public schools in Illinois during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While Illinois public schools were closed, many private schools operated safely," he said. "Parents and students should never have to go through the COVID learning loss they did."

Redrawn ahead of the 2022 election, the 14th District encompasses parts of Kane, Will, DeKalb, Kendall, LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties.

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