Choosing Politics over Children in Washington, D.C.

The decision by Education Secretary Arne Duncan to freeze the admission of students to Washington, D.C.’s voucher program is cause for concern, as editorialized last week by the Washington Post.

It’s clear, though, from how the destruction of the program is being orchestrated, that issues such as parents’ needs, student performance and program effectiveness don’t matter next to the political demands of teachers’ unions. Congressional Democrats who receive ample campaign contributions from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers laid the trap with budget language that placed the program on the block. And now comes Mr. Duncan with the sword.

This morning’s ProJo contains an editorial by Anthony A. Williams, former Democrat mayor of the District of Columbia and Kevin P. Chavous, a former Democratic member of the D.C. Council and author of Serving Our Children: Charter Schools and the Reform of American Public Education and a distinguished fellow with the Center for Education Reform.

[A]s elected officials of the District in 2003 [we promoted] the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program, which provides scholarships for low-income children to attend private schools, is part of the three-sector initiative that annually provides $50 million in federal funding to the District for education purposes. That money has been equally divided among D.C. public schools, D.C. public charter schools and the scholarship program.
Preliminary data suggest that the program has been an overwhelming success. An Education Department study released this month shows that students in the program have higher overall math and reading scores than when they entered the program. The study also points to high satisfaction with their children’s schools among parents with children in the program. In short, those in this program have clearly benefited from being in a new school environment.
Despite these obvious signs of success, though, some in Congress want to end the program. Its funding is set to expire after the next school year ends, but some have even suggested curtailing it immediately so that these students can be placed in D.C. public schools as soon as possible. Already, no more students are being enrolled. These naysayers — many of whom are fellow Democrats — see vouchers as a tool to destroy the public-education system. Their rhetoric and ire are largely fueled by those special-interest groups that are more dedicated to the adults working in the education system than to making certain every child is properly educated. {Emphasis added}

We know that unions don’t like to give kids option. But it’s worse when those with the ability to choose seek to remove that ability from others who are less fortunate:

That, after all, is what this program is about: giving poor families the choice that others, with higher salaries and more resources, take for granted. It’s a choice President Obama made when he enrolled his two children in the elite Sidwell Friends School. It’s a choice Mr. Duncan had when, after looking at the D.C. schools, he ended up buying a house in Arlington, where good schools are assumed. And it’s a choice taken away this week from LaTasha Bennett, a single mother who had planned to start her daughter in the same private school that her son attends and where he is excelling. Her desperation is heartbreaking as she talks about her daughter not getting the same opportunities her son has and of the hardship of having to shuttle between two schools.

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Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
14 years ago

This t-shirt says it all:
“EDOPHILES – teachers unions exploiting children for monetary gratification”
You can throw Democrat officeholders into that category as well, including the Obamessiah – who obviously isn’t concerned with offering “Hope” to black children.

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