Last night, the Senate considered an amendment by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The amendment failed 42 – 55. The bi-partisan amendment, which was cosponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), and George Voinovich (R-OH), would have allowed new students to enroll in the scholarship program and would have ensured current students are able to remain in the existing private schools. The Washington Post writes today:
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced an amendment to a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration that would have extended the voucher program for five years and funded it at $20 million a year, opening it to new students. The Senate killed Lieberman’s attempt to amend a different bill earlier this month.
‘Many teachers in our nation’s capital . . . are just not providing an adequate education to their students,’ Lieberman said. ‘We’re giving these children the ability to save their own lives.’
More than 1,700 students participated in the 2008-09 school year. That number dropped to 1,319 this year because applications were closed to new students in the spring, and some students have graduated or left the program…
‘Already, D.C. parents have a choice,’ said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, who spoke on the Senate floor against the program. ‘We have over 60 charters in the District of Columbia, and they’re growing all the time.’
While charters are in fact serving many children, the scholarships are specifically meeting the needs of those students enrolled in the program – and have been successful in raising academic achievement.
In the video above, watch Sen. Lieberman explain how a federally-mandated evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program found children to be improving academically.