Put yourself in the shoes of LaTasha Bennett. A single mother living in Washington, D.C., Ms. Bennett is able to send her child to a private school thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Hoping to enroll her daughter in the same private school, Ms. Bennett applied for and recently received a voucher from the Washington Scholarship Fund.
But last week, Ms. Bennett and hundreds of other D.C. parents received a form letter from the U.S. Department of Education informing them that their children wouldn’t be receiving a scholarship. The Fordham Institute has posted the letter. Here’s the opening paragraph:
We deeply regret the confusion over whether your child would receive a scholarship through the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. Please know and understand that we deeply sympathize with the uncertainty that you and your family may have faced over the past few months, and we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure that your child is in a safe school environment that offers strengthened academic programs.
If the Department of Education was truly “committed to doing everything possible,” to ensure that parents like Ms. Bennett could enroll their children in a safe school environment, Secretary Duncan should: 1) reverse the Department’s decision and allow the Washington Scholarship Fund to release the funds that Congress has already appropriated to award all of the available scholarships for 2009-10, and 2) walk up Capitol Hill and ask Speaker Pelosi, Delegate Norton, and Senator Durbin to support the scholarship program’s reauthorization and expansion.
Unfortunately, instead of doing “everything possible” to help these families, Secretary Duncan and the Department instead seem ready to do the dirty work for Congressional liberals who are intent on denying families the power to choose the best school for their children, as the Washington Post explained in a scathing editorial: “Congressional Democrats who receive ample campaign contributions from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers laid the trap with budget language that placed the program on the block. And now comes Mr. Duncan with the sword.”