D.C. School Choice Coalition Vows Aggressive Fight to Save Voucher Program after Congressional Gains
WASHINGTON–(EON: Enhanced Online News)–Efforts to reauthorize the endangered D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program—the highly effective initiative that allows low-income D.C. schoolchildren to attend the schools of their parents’ choice—will intensify after yesterday’s historic election results, D.C. education activists promised today. The program was slated for elimination by President Obama and his Congressional allies last year.
With the Republican takeover in the House and a narrower margin between the parties in the Senate, the potential for saving the program has increased, according to D.C. Parents for School Choice, the leading advocacy organization promoting the program’s expansion and protection.
The program, which has allowed children from D.C.’s lowest-income families to attend the private schools of their parents’ choice, has benefited more than 3,500 children. According to studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, the OSP has dramatically increased student graduation rates and is one of the most effective federally-funded education efforts in history.
“Our representatives have the opportunity to right one of the most severe wrongs of the past two years—the elimination of the OSP” said Virginia Walden Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice. “The time has come for our new Congress to send a clear message to D.C. parents—that their needs will no longer fall on deaf ears in the highest corridors of power.”
In fact, Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio), who will likely be elected by his colleagues as the next Speaker of the House, is the primary House sponsor of the bill to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program, which has received support by a significant majority of D.C. residents and by a majority of the D.C. City Council, has been backed by a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate, with supporters including primary sponsor Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida). The late Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) was also a Democratic supporter.
“All Democrats need to take a new look at this program and see that it should not only be saved, but strengthened,” said former D.C. Councilman Kevin P. Chavous, chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). “If our goal as Democrats is to advance the key social justice arguments of our time, we cannot ignore the plight of low-income children in the District of Columbia. All Democrats should join their courageous colleagues in the Senate and embrace this program.”
D.C. Parents for School Choice said that it would be mailing packets of information about the OSP to newly-elected Members of Congress and Senators this week.
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