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The Big Fail: For Some, School Choice Is Out Forever

- May 25, 2012

If Obama Has His Way, Underprivileged Children Will Lose Their Opportunity For A Private School Education

The Washington Post: “Will Obama Deprive D.C. Children Of The Opportunity His Children Have?” (Editorial, “Will Obama Deprive D.C. Children Of The Opportunity His Children Have?” The Washington Post, 11/16/08)

The Answer Isn’t Surprising

 “During The Just-Concluded Campaign, Mr. Obama Spoke Dismissively Of The Federally Funded Voucher Program That Gives Poor D.C. Families Access To The Kind Of Educational Opportunities His Family Is Fortunate To Have.” (Editorial, “Mr. Obama Should Support D.C. School Vouchers,” The Washington Post, 11/15/08)

“In May 2009, President Obama Cut Off Funding For New Students To Enter The Program.” (Robert Samuels, “Parents Rush To Apply For D.C. Private School Vouchers,” The Washington Post, 6/25/11)

In 2009, Obama Urged The Democrat Controlled Congress To End The Program. “At the Obama administration’s urging, Congress agreed in 2009 to phase out the program. But it was revived last year as part of a budget deal with House Republicans.” (“Obama Budget Proposal Includes No New Funding For D.C. Private-School Vouchers,” The Associated Press, 2/14/12)

  • The Washington Post: Obama Proposed Not Allowing New Students Into The D.C. Voucher Program “And Letting The Program Die By Attrition.” “Mr. Obama has proposed letting the 1,700 students now in the program continue their schooling while admitting no new students and letting the program die by attrition.” (Editorial, “A Senate Hearing Shows Why D.C.’s School Voucher Program Works,” The Washington Post, 5/14/09)

Obama’s Democrat Allies In Congress Voted In March 2009 To Cut Off Funding For The D.C. Program. “Congress voted in March to cut off funding after the 2009-10 academic year unless the entire program is reauthorized by lawmakers, a dim prospect in the Democrat-led body.” (Bill Turque and Shailagh Murray, “Obama Offers D.C. Voucher Compromise,” The Washington Post, 5/7/09)

The Washington Post“The latest evidence of the administration washing its hands of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program is seen in the 2011 budget proposal it unveiled this week. It targets $9 million for the program but specifies that this will be ‘the final request’ for federal funding.” (Editorial, “D.C. Support Needed To Pressure Congress On School Vouchers,” The Washington Post, 2/4/10)

  • The Washington Post: “[I]t's Clear That President Obama And The Democratic Leadership In Congress Have Already Written The Epilogue To This Worthy Program.”  “Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) haven't given up on their bid to save the federally funded voucher program that allows low-income families in the District to send their children to private schools. We would like to see them succeed, but it's clear that President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress have already written the epilogue to this worthy program.” (Editorial, “D.C. Support Needed To Pressure Congress On School Vouchers,”The Washington Post, 2/4/10)

Obama’s FY 2013 Budget “Includes No New Funding For A Private School Voucher Program” That Benefits The Neediest Of Students In Our Nation’s Capital.  “President Barack Obama’s budget proposal includes no new funding for a private school voucher program for D.C. students. The nation’s capital is the only jurisdiction where federal tax dollars are used to subsidize private-school tuition. Needy students can receive up to $12,000 a year to attend private schools of their choice.” (“Obama Budget Proposal Includes No New Funding For D.C. Private-School Vouchers,” The Associated Press, 2/14/12)

  • The Washington Post: The Scholarship Program Has “Proved Popular And Successful” And “Polls Show A Majority Of D.C. Residents Favor It.” “Mr. Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget requests zero funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which allows children from low-income D.C. families to attend private schools with federal vouchers of up to $12,000 annually. It has proved popular and successful. More than 10,000 families have sought to participate since the program’s start in 2004, and polls show a majority of D.C. residents favor it.”  (Editorial, “Who Will Rescue The D.C. Voucher Program This Time?” The Washington Post, 4/10/12)

THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE CONTENDS THAT THE PROGRAM IS A WASTE

The Obama White House: “The administration strongly opposes expanding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and opening it to new students. Rigorous evaluation over several years demonstrates that the D.C. program has not yielded improved student achievement by its scholarship recipients compared to other students in D.C.” (Statement Of Administration Policy, H.R. 471 – Scholarships For Opportunity And Results Act, The White House, 3/29/11)

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program Is A Success

The Investigator Tasked With Studying The DCOSP “Markedly Improved Important Education Outcomes For Low-Income Inner-City Students.  “That dismissal might come as a surprise to Patrick J. Wolf, the principal investigator who helped conduct the rigorous studies of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and who has more than a decade of experience evaluating school choice programs. Here's what Mr. Wolf had to say about the program in Feb. 16 testimony to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Operations. ‘In my opinion, by demonstrating statistically significant experimental impacts on boosting high school graduation rates and generating a wealth of evidence suggesting that students also benefited in reading achievement, the DCOSP has accomplished what few educational interventions can claim: It markedly improved important education outcomes for low-income inner-city students.’” (Editorial, “White House Ignores Evidence Of How D.C. School Vouchers Work,” The Washington Post, 3/29/11)

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship “Not Only Works — In The Judgment Of Federal Evaluators — But Also Enjoys Bipartisan Support.” “Surely, it shouldn’t be among the president’s priorities to single out for attack a tiny federal program that not only works — in the judgment of federal evaluators — but also enjoys bipartisan support. If it is, we trust that Mr. Boehner would step in, as he did last year, to save a program that D.C.’s poorest families value for their children.” (Editorial, “Who Will Rescue The D.C. Voucher Program This Time?” The Washington Post, 4/10/12)

D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program Is “Another Success.” “Another success story is Mr. Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which includes a portfolio of programs - such as HIV/AIDS relief, the Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, Fatherhood and Marriage Initiatives and teen abstinence programs.” (Editorial, “Advice For Obama,” The Washington Times, 11/7/08)

  • The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Helps Kids Living In Poverty Seek A Quality Education. “Applicants must show proof of residency. Participating families must also be food-stamp recipients or make no more than about $41,000 for a family of four — 185 percent of the poverty level.” (Robert Samuels, “Parents Rush To Apply For D.C. Private School Vouchers,” The Washington Post, 6/25/11)
  • The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program Has Produced “Higher Graduation Rates Than The D.C. Public School Average.” “So it's passing strange that his new $3.8 trillion budget provides no new money for a school voucher program in Washington, D.C., that is producing significantly higher graduation rates than the D.C. public school average.” (Jason L. Riley, “Obama’s War On School Vouchers,” The Wall Street Journal’s Political Diary,” 2/14/12)
  • “Among The Positive Outcomes Of DCOSP Are Greater Parental Satisfaction—Especially Regarding School Safety—And A Significant Increase In High School Graduation Rates. As The DCOSP Evaluation Makes Clear, School Choice Offers Real Benefits To Students And Their Families.” (Jason Richwine, “D.C. Voucher Students: Higher Graduation Rates And Other Positive Outcomes,” Heritage Foundation, 7/28/10)
  • D.C. Opportunity Scholarships Cost Thousands Less Than Per-Pupil Spending In D.C. “Per-pupil spending in DCPS [D.C. Public Schools] now exceeds $17,600—more than twice the amount of the DCOSP. While the House and Senate reauthorization bills would increase the scholarships to $8,000 and $12,000 for elementary and secondary students, respectively, the vouchers would still be significantly less than per-pupil spending in DCPS.” (Lindsey Burke, “Saving Money Through School Choice,” Heritage Foundation, 3/29/11)
  • Obama’s Own Education Department Said D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Students Perform Better In Reading Than Non-Voucher Students. “Overall, those offered a scholarship were performing at statistically higher levels in reading equivalent to 3.1 months of additional learning … Parents were more satisfied with their child’s school (as measured by the percentage giving the school a grade of A or B) and viewed their child’s school as safer and more orderly if the child was offered a scholarship.” (“Evaluation Of The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impact After Three Years,” Department Of Education, 3/09)

A Study Of The D.C. Voucher Program Concluded That Students Showed Improvements In Reading And Parents Viewed Schools As Safer And More Orderly. “An evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program released yesterday concluded that, after three years, students offered scholarships earned reading scores equivalent to 3.1 months of additional learning. It also mirrored earlier studies in showing that parents who had children in the program were more satisfied with the schools, viewing them as safer and more orderly.” (Editorial, “D.C. School Voucher Program Deserves More Time, Further Study,” The Washington Post, 4/4/09)

WHY DOES OBAMA WANT TO LIMIT OPTIONS FOR NEEDY CHILDREN?

Obama Is Standing With Special Interest Groups By Ending The “Successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.” “The Obama administration is once again standing with education special interest groups and against low-income children in Washington, D.C. His 2013 budget request zeros out funding for the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was revived last year thanks to the hard work of Speaker John Boehner and the thousands of D.C. families who received scholarships to attend a private school of choice.” (Lindsey Burke, “Obama’s Budget Ends Funding For D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program,” Heritage’s “The Foundry,” 2/13/12)

“But Teachers Unions Oppose It And, With The Help Of Obliging Democrats, Have Tried — Unrelentingly — To Kill The Program.” (Editorial, “Who Will Rescue The D.C. Voucher Program This Time?” The Washington Post, 4/10/12)

  • The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Is Exactly What The Teachers Unions Want. “The Obama administration closed the program to new students; children currently enrolled, while supposedly assured of getting vouchers until they graduate from high school, face uncertainty as the program's administrator pulls out. This is exactly what the program's chief antagonists, the teachers unions, want; the National Education Association lobbied fiercely against Mr. Lieberman's amendment.”  (Editorial, “Congress Must Act Soon To Reauthorize D.C. Scholarship Program,” The Washington Post3/10/10)

Since 2008, The National Education Association Has Contributed $101,787 To Obama. (Center For Responsive Politics, Accessed 5/24/12; Center For Responsive Politics, Accessed 5/24/12)

Since 2008, The American Federation Of Teachers Has Contributed $33,188 To Obama. (Center For Responsive Politics, Accessed 5/24/12)


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