Some worried D.C. schoolchildren recently asked President Obama to continue the highly successful D.C . Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program, which allows parents the choice to to take their children out of failing public schools, is in danger of being scrapped completely after the 2010 school year.
Ignoring the pleas of these children and others, a measure hidden in the omnibus spending bill effectively eliminates this program. It would make it so the funds have to be reauthorized by Congress as well as approved by the D.C. Council, providing a real challenge for the parents, the kids, and their supporters. There is backing for this program at the local level, but clearly little support at the congressional level.
Who can be against a program that costs less per student than traditional federal programs and improves the school experience of children and parents alike? The $13 million cost of the D.C . Opportunity Scholarship Program is a drop in the bucket compared to the $68 billion in the federal budget for the Department of Education. The stimulus bill alone added $140 billion over two years to the Department of Education, including $15 billion for Pell Grants, which support school choice for upper-income college students.
Effectively cutting this program would hurt only children who are already disadvantaged. The average income of families receiving scholarships is $22,736. Everyone should have a choice in education, not just the wealthy.
President Obama, himself a beneficiary of school choice in Hawaii, sends his daughters to a private school, as do many members of Congress. In fact, classmates of the president’s daughters would be directly affected by these cuts.
Heritage has put together a Web site, Voices of School Choice, where you can see first-hand how this program benefits parents and their children and provides healthy competition for public schools.