This is big government at its finest hour. The Democrats have officially killed a successful private school voucher program banishing more than 3,300 low-income children back to the DC schools they so desperately wanted to escape.
The leaders of D.C.’s school choice movement, Kevin P. Chavous (former D.C. Councilman) and Virginia Walden Ford (executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice), today issued the following statement:
“House and Senate Appropriators this week ignored the wishes of D.C.’s mayor, D.C.’s public schools chancellor, a majority of D.C.’s city council, and more than 70 percent of D.C. residents and have mandated the slow death of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. This successful school voucher program—for D.C.’s poorest families—has allowed more than 3,300 children to attend the best schools they have ever known.
The decision to end the program, a decision buried in a thousand-page spending bill and announced right before the holidays, destroys the hopes and dreams of thousands of D.C. families. Parents and children have rallied countless times over the past year in support of reauthorization and in favor of strengthening the OSP.
Yet, despite the clearly positive results and the proven success of this program, Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Jose Serrano, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Secretary Arne Duncan worked together to kill the OSP. Funding the program only for existing children shrinks the program each year, compromises the federal evaluation of the program, denies entry to the siblings of existing participants, and punishes those children waiting in line by sentencing them to failing and often unsafe schools.
The Democrats have effectively ended the voucher program. Obama only extended it into the 2009-2010 school year. He could have done more. He didn’t. Underpriveleged children–whom the Democrats
oppress “protect” from the greed and injustices of the Right had a chance to gain the social justice and fairness Obama continuously touts in his speeches.
The Democrats have spent trillions of our tax dollars so carelessly with failed stimulus pork payouts, cash for clunkers, auto bailouts, bank bailouts, and additional Fannie and Freddie bailouts, you would think they could spare an extra $50 million over five years to continue to educate poor children–especially minority children.
For the record, it was the Republicans in 2004 who started the voucher program and Republican Senator John Ensign (R-NV) who introduced an amendment to the omnibus appropriations bill to extend the voucher program. Democrats voted down the amendment 50-39.
Ensign said in a statement:
“In drafting this bill, Democrats put their political agenda ahead of educating our children. As a result, students who chose to leave a failing school and attend a better, safer school will have to return to the school they decided to leave. This is such a tragic situation.”
I can only deduce that the product of the Democrats’ social justice mantra is to give the poor enough money to buy the basic necessities, including food and clothes, but not empower or provide them the means–starting with education–to become so much more than a welfare dependent or government volunteer.