Should Pres. Barack Obama make high school education his priority, at least in Federal District Columbia?
By admin - Sun Jul 22, 7:15 pm
Question by Track P: Should Pres. Barack Obama make high school education his priority, at least in Federal District Columbia?
President Obama made education a big part of his speech Tuesday night, complete with a stirring call for reform. So we’ll be curious to see how he handles the dismaying attempt by Democrats in Congress to crush education choice for 1,700 poor kids in the District of Columbia.
The omnibus spending bill now moving through the House includes language designed to kill the Opportunity Scholarship Program offering vouchers for poor students to opt out of rotten public schools. The legislation says no federal funds can be used on the program beyond 2010 unless Congress and the D.C. City Council reauthorize it. Given that Democrats control both bodies — and that their union backers hate school choice — this amounts to a death sentence.
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Republicans passed the program in 2004, with help from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, and it has been extremely popular. Families receive up to $ 7,500 a year to attend the school of their choice. That’s a real bargain, given that D.C. public schools spend $ 14,400 per pupil on average, among the most in the country.
To qualify, a student’s household income must be at or below 185% of the poverty level. Some 99% of the participants are minority, and the average annual income is $ 23,000 for a family of four. A 2008 Department of Education evaluation found that participants had higher reading scores than their peers who didn’t receive a scholarship, and there are four applicants for each voucher.
Vouchers also currently exist in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, Utah and Wisconsin. And school choice continues to proliferate elsewhere in the form of tax credits and charter schools. The District’s is the only federally funded initiative, however, and local officials from former Mayor Anthony Williams to current Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee support its continuation. As Ms. Rhee put it in a December 2007 interview with the Journal, “I would never, as long as I am in this role, do anything to limit another parent’s ability to make a choice for their child. Ever.”
Ms. Rhee is working to reform all D.C. public schools, which in 2007 ranked last in math and second-to-last in reading among all U.S. urban school systems on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress. Without the vouchers, more than 80% of the 1,700 kids would have to attend public schools that haven’t made “adequate yearly progress” under No Child Left Behind. Remember all of those Members of Congress standing and applauding on Tuesday as Mr. Obama called for every American child to get some education beyond high school? These are the same Members who protect and defend a D.C. system in which about half of all students fail even to graduate from high school.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama spoke of the “historic investment in education” in the stimulus bill, which included a staggering, few-strings-attached $ 140 billion to the Department of Education over two years. But he also noted that “our schools don’t just need more resources; they need more reform,” and he expressed support for charter schools and other policies that “open doors of opportunity for our children.”
If he means what he says, Mr. Obama won’t let his fellow Democrats consign 1,700 more poor kids to failing schools he’d never dream of letting his own daughters attend.
Answer by Mike F.
sure, whats another $ 300 billion or so when were spending trillions of dollars in the next year
What do you think? Answer below!