The United States House of Representatives recently passed
the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results Act by a vote of 255-195. Showing how high of a priority this legislation is, this is the only bill that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is personally sponsoring this year. The SOAR Act reauthorizes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a popular and effective school voucher program that, due to opposition from the White House and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), was essentially cut off in 2009. Public schools in D.C., which are ranked 51st in the nation, have a 55% graduation rate; 91% of students
who received a voucher graduated from D.C. private schools. Less than 1 in 5 D.C. public school 8th graders are proficient in reading.
Despite White House claims to the contrary, all research and evidence suggests that the D.C. OSP has dramatically improved
education outcomes for low-income students in Washington within the few years it has been in place. It is wildly popular among D.C. residents; three-quarters of people in Washington support the program, even though the Mayor and non-voting representative to Congress opposed it. Furthermore, the vouchers are $7,500-- cheaper than the $18,000 a student costs in a public school in D.C. It is a successful program that is actually doing a lot of good for students trapped in the worst school system in the nation; President Obama and Congressional Democrats should not block it. To quote the Washington Post Editorial Board:
We understand the argument against using public funds for private, and especially parochial, schools. But it is parents, not government, choosing where to spend the vouchers. Given that this program takes no money away from public or public charter schools; that the administration does not object to parents directing Pell grants to Notre Dame or Georgetown; and that members of the administration would never accept having to send their own children to failing schools, we don't think the argument is very persuasive. Maybe that's why an administration that promised never to let ideology trump evidence is making an exception in this case.
A compelling argument on the Post's part. The administration should make the right decision here and let these low-income students escape the failing system that they would otherwise be trapped in.