Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Barack Obama & the DC School Voucher Program

From ReasonTV:
"Barack Obama & the DC School Voucher Program: The president says he wants to do 'what's best for kids.' So why won't he save a proven program that helps low-income students?"

Mercedes Campbell is one of the 1,700 students in the Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a school-voucher program authorized by Congress in 2004. The program gives students up to $7,500 to attend whatever school their parents choose. For kids like Mercedes, who now attends Georgetown Visitation Prep, the DC voucher program is a way out of one of the worst school districts in the country.

"It's different, now that I go to Visitation," says Mercedes. "I approach things differently. It's like a whole new world, basically."

The program is wildly popular with parents and children—there are four applicants for every available slot—and a recent Department of Education study found that participants do significantly better than their public school peers. Indeed, after three years in private schools, students who entered the program at its inception were 19 months ahead in reading of applicants unlucky enough to still be trapped in D.C.'s public schools.

Yet working with congressional Democrats and despite his pledge to put politics and ideology aside in education, the Obama administration has effectively killed the program through a backdoor legislative move. "[Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan will use only one test in what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars," says the president. "It's not whether it's liberal or conservative, but whether it works."

That sort of doublespeak has left many Obama supporters not just puzzled but outraged. Certainly, Mercedes is. "Out of everything else they can shut down or everything else they can advocate for, they want to take this one thing away?" Adds her mother, Ingrid, "We voted for you, we walked, we went to the parade, we stood freezing. Why?...Can you get this tape over to Obama and have him answer our questions? Why, sir, why?"
So, while Ms. Campbell says that the haggle over vouchers in DC was over politics, I may consider this only part of the problem. I think there are forces that don't want to see changes to the system at least as long as these changes doesn't benefit them. They'll come up with every excuse possible to argue against school vouchers or school choice and those kids be damned who are stuck in the worst of the public schools.

My philosophy is that the public schools are worth the investment many want the taxpayers to put in then there has to be positive results. Hopefully there will be no baloney on how that progress is measured. Test scores many not be the only answer, but there has to be an answer for certain.

You can also check out this video here.

Hat-tip Newsalert!

1 comment:

Zack Isaacs said...

First, I'm sorry that you had to resort to comment moderation. The only fools that I deal with are clever spambots, posing as human beings. (You can forget about word verification. They found a way around that too.)

As for your post, I can't agree with you more. I just hope that SOMEBODY thinks of the children much sooner than later. GREAT POST!

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