Soon, critics of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program won’t have any arguments left. For years, opponents have argued that the scholarship program wasn’t working. But a recent federal evaluation found that scholarship students have made “statistically significant” improvement in reading compared to their peers who didn’t get scholarships. The report confirmed what parents have been saying for years: the program is improving students’ educational opportunities.
Another common criticism is that Congress and the Bush administration somehow imposed this program on an unwilling District government. Of course, this ignores that former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams strongly supported the program when it was created. Now, a new letter signed by a majority of the D.C. City Council should erase any doubt about whether local leaders support the Opportunity Scholarship program.
The letter, addressed to Secretary Duncan and Mayor Fenty, endorses the program and calls on the administration to reverse its decision to take scholarships away from the 216 children who were recently admitted to the program:
We ask you to rescind your letter of April 6, 2009, addressed to those 216 families and that you honor your respective promise to them by allowing these children to enroll in the private schools of their choice in the fall of 2009. We believe we simply cannot turn our backs on these families because doing so will deny their children the quality education they deserve.
Indeed, last month, at a rally in front of the Wilson Building, several thousand families urged us to keep their children’s futures in mind and to support the continuation of this popular school choice program. We strongly urge you to stand with us in supporting these children and continuing the District’s Opportunity Scholarship Program.
The Washington Post has more in another terrific editorial.