April 1 2010
Vicki E. Alger
Federal education spending is up $77 billion, but D.C. school children are down and out, thanks to the decision of Congress and the Obama administration to kill the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, in spite of tireless efforts by a bi-partisan coalition of Senators led by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) (See Roll Call Vote #00053 on March 16, H.R. 1586). In response, the Heritage Foundation has launched a new campaign to highlight such hypocrisy.
The Heritage Foundation's Rachel Sheffield explains that a "new ad campaign will require the Washington establishment to look these children in the eyes and answer their questions," which include:
Maybe they don't know we have higher test scores? Asks one child.
A federally mandated evaluation found that, on average, scholarship recipients were 3.1 months ahead in reading compared to their public school peers-a statistically significant gain. Furthermore, those students participating in the program the longest were nearly two school years ahead of their peers in reading.
Maybe they don't know our scholarships cost less than D.C. public schools? Asks another child.
Scholarships give taxpayers, students, and families more bang for their buck. In fact, the $7,500 cost of an Opportunity Scholarship is half what it costs to send a child to a D.C. public school. In fact, the cost to educate a child with a D.C. scholarship is less than what most states pay to send a child to a public school. A better education for less money is a win-win situation.
Maybe they don't know the President is a scholarship success story? Asks a third student.
President Obama is perhaps the most successful scholarship recipient of all time. A private scholarship afforded him the opportunity to attend an elite high school in Hawaii. Now he has exercised his power by denying the same life-changing opportunities to children in D.C.
It is significant to note that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's own department, which is supposed to follow a whatever-works approach to reform, reached the above conclusions about the benefits of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. George Will recently editorialized on the hypocrisy of Duncan posturing as a civil rights crusader fighting for equal access to high-quality education programs:
No segregationist politician is blocking schoolhouse doors against D.C. children; congressional Democrats are. Until Duncan and the talkative president he serves speak against the congressional Democrats who are strangling the District's Opportunity Scholarship Program, he should spare us the exhibitionism of explaining problems of social class in the '60s vocabulary of civil rights violations.