Early this morning, the President and first lady attended parent-teacher conferences at the Bethesda and Northwest D.C. Sidwell Friends School campuses for their daughters, Sasha and Malia. The exclusive school boasts a strong academic program in a safe and nurturing learning environment. Upon arriving in D.C. last winter, the First Family carefully weighed their options and chose to have the girls attend private school in the district – a preferable alternative to the unsafe and ineffective D.C. public schools. And like the Obamas, nearly 40 percent of members of Congress have at one point chosen to exercise school choice and send their children to private school.
Yet Obama and many members of Congress – who clearly understand the value of school choice for their own children – have allowed that same choice to be denied to many low-income families in D.C.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which is currently providing scholarships of up to $7,500 to 1,700 low-income children in the District to attend a private school of their choice, is being phased-out by Congress. In fact, 216 children have already had their scholarships rescinded and were left with no recourse but to return to their unsafe public schools. During the 2007-08 school year, for example, there were 912 incidents of violent crime in the D.C. public schools.
The struggle to ensure their children are safe and well-educated is an important one for parents in the District of Columbia – schools here are among the most dangerous in the country and students’ academic achievement ranks 51st in the nation.
To highlight the ongoing fight for school choice in the District, tomorrow night, Heritage will premier the new mini-documentary Let Me Rise: The Struggle to Save School Choice in the Nation’s Capital, at 6:00 p.m., followed by a reception. The event will be hosted by Heritage Executive Vice-President Phillip Truluck along with host committee members John Boehner (R-OH), Kevin Chavous, Darrell Issa (R-CA), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Virginia Walden-Ford, and Juan Williams.
Let Me Rise is a 30-minute film about the school choice debate in our nation’s capital and around the country. The film features the personal stories and perspectives of District of Columbia families who are fighting to provide their children with a safe and effective education. Let Me Rise challenges not only people in the District, but across the nation, to better understand the critical need to improve urban education in America.
Please join us tomorrow night for a compelling look at the future of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program as told through the voices of the children whose educational futures continue to hang in the balance.
You can register for the event here.