Last night, the House Appropriations Committee marked-up the spending bill that included funding for the D.C. government. The package included $12 million in funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program to allow current scholarship recipients to continue in their private schools. But the appropriations bill included language preventing any new students from receiving scholarships. Republicans proposed two amendments: one stripping out the “no new student” language, another to at least allow the siblings of current recipients to receive scholarships. The majority on the Committee voted them down.
The Obama administration and Congress have avoided the terrible publicity that would have occurred if current scholarship students were pulled out of their private schools. But now they’re quietly putting the Opportunity Scholarship program—which has proven to improve students’ reading achievement—on a march to slow death over time.
Earlier this year, the families of approximately 200 students received letters from the U.S. Department of Education informing them that they were no longer eligible for Opportunity Scholarships. They had previously been told by the Washington Scholarship Fund that they had received a scholarship. Many of these children have older brothers or sisters in the program. Imagine how hard it will be for these parents to watch one child benefit from a life-changing opportunity while another languishes in a low-performing school.
Who is Congress looking out for in the education debate?