Secretary of Education Arne Duncan broke with liberals on Capitol Hill last night by making a statement that D.C. kids should be allowed to keep their vouchers: “I don’t think it makes sense to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning,” Duncan said. “I think those kids need to stay in their school.”
This is a good sign that the Obama administration is listening from the calls of D.C. students asking them to keep their Opportunity Scholarships. But a careful reading of Secretary Duncan’s statement should give school choice supporters reason to pause before celebrating. He says nothing about continuing the scholarship program or allowing now disadvantaged children to receive scholarships. Only allowing participating children to keep their scholarships is another way of phasing-out the program over time.
So, good for Secretary Ducnan for recognizing that pulling disadvantaged children out of their private schools would be the wrong thing to do. But D.C. families and school choice supporters shouldn’t be satisfied until they actually support continuing and growing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program to give more low-income children the chance to attend a safe and effective school. That’s the right thing to do.