Washington D.C. public schools are some of the worst in the country, and the most expensive. About 1,700 kids currently receive $7,500 vouchers to attend private schools under Congress’ Opportunity Scholarship Program. 99 percent of the children are black or Hispanic. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of a lottery, and are a huge hit with parents.
The Department of Education’s just released annual evaluation of the D.C. program shows that voucher recipients are reading a half-grade higher than their peers who didn’t get a scholarship. The program’s earliest recipients are 19 months ahead of their public school peers.
The Obamas have chosen a private school for their daughters, as have 44 percent of Senators and 36 percent of Representatives according to the Heritage Foundation. (Whether these are Congressmen who have children of school age, or all Congressmen is unclear).
New Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was recently asked “how important was the school district in your decision about where to live.” Mr. Duncan responded: “She goes to Arlington [Virginia] public schools. That was why we chose where we live, it was the determining factor…I didn’t want to try to save the country’s children and our educational system and jeopardize my own children’s education.”
President Obama and his Education Secretary have promised to support “what works.” But of course they have decided to end the D.C. voucher program and send the poor kids back to the schools where they would never send their own children.
President Obama has apparently said that he will request funding to keep the D.C. voucher program’s current recipients in private school through high school graduation. No new participants. This will be meaningless unless he also promises to veto any appropriations bill that kills the program outright. Congress will not follow his wishes unless he indicates that this is a priority for him. Over 1,000 parents turned out to protest, indicating that it is a priority for them, which is why Obama is possibly backing down.
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