• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • D.C. Kids 'Rise' to Save Scholarships

    Let Me Rise

    An eighth-grader named Shaketa is on the move. She’s representing thousands of her peers in the nation’s capital in the effort to save D.C. Opportunity Scholarships from the indefensible end imposed by Congress.

    Shaketa, along with seven other children among the program’s 1,700 current enrollees appear in provocative print advertisements displayed in Metro’s busy Union Station subway stop and on 225 buses traveling every Metro route in the District.

    The four-week ad campaign, sponsored by The Heritage Foundation, began Monday evening, when the chalkboard-themed ads greeted commuters along the Metro platform at Union Station. The public service ads, 42 in all, also are grouped at station exits and entrances.

    Each ad is a portrait of Shaketa, fourth-grader Nico or one of the other six smiling, bright-eyed girls and boys. The children stand behind a slogan that looks to be stenciled with chalk: “Let Me Rise!“.

    Rise is what Shaketa and the others have done as real-life recipients of D.C. Opportunity Scholarships of up to $7,500, which allowed them to attend a private school of their parents’ choosing.

    Their message is aimed at members of the House and Senate — whose staff routinely ride Metro to and from Union Station. But the cry also is designed to catch the eye of parents and taxpayers – tourists as well as locals  – who believe kids, regardless of family income, should have an alternative to failing public schools in the District and elsewhere.

    One ad pictures seventh-grader Fransoir, grinning and his arms folded, under the headline “Kids vs. Congress” and alongside a chalk drawing of the U.S. Capitol. The text gets to the point: “38% of members of Congress have sent a child to private school. Now, Congress wants to phase out a scholarship that gives children in D.C. the same opportunity.”

    Despite the program’s track record of success since 2004, Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate last year cut off future funding for the scholarships at the behest of President Barack Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and powerful teachers unions.

    The most recent setback came March 16. In a 55-42 vote, the Senate  rejected an amendment by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) to reauthorize the program for another five years.

    Three variations of the ad show a thought balloon chalked alongside a student’s cocked head, posing one of these tough questions:

    • Maybe they don’t know the President is a scholarship success story?
    • Maybe they don’t know we have higher test scores?
    • Maybe they don’t know our scholarships cost less than D.C. public schools?

    Federally mandated evaluations of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program concluded enrolled students outperform peers in public school and their parents are happier with the education they’re getting.

    Few wrongs are greater than the inequality that endures in American education,” says Virginia Walden Ford, a Heritage Foundation visiting fellow and mother of a past scholarship recipient, who has made saving the scholarship program the cause of her life. “More than a half century after the Supreme Court rejected segregation in our nation’s schools, minority children are still less likely to receive a quality education

    Berman and Company, a Washington-based communications and advertising firm, created the ads. They direct readers to the effort’s Web site, VoicesofSchoolChoice.org and carry the disclaimer: “Brought to you by The Heritage Foundation.”

    Featured schoolchildren also appear with Ms. Walden Ford in the Heritage-produced documentary, “Let Me Rise: The Struggle to Save School Choice in the Nation’s Capital,” a powerful 30-minute film narrated by NPR correspondent Juan Williams.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to D.C. Kids 'Rise' to Save Scholarships

    1. GMWinslow - Tennesse says:

      Keep up the good fight, Heritage. This is just another non-isolated incident of the elitists purporting to be 'servants' preventing the 'ordinary folk' the same opportunities they enjoy. Just like exempting themselves from DemCare. If it is not good enough for them . . . it is not good enough for us!

    2. Don Gerhard, Phoenix says:

      Great Work –it prompted me to sign-up for a recurring donation. I wanted to commit my resources to something positive while I still can.

    3. KKHale, Texas says:

      What is to prevent pooling individual contributions to a DC Scholarship program, permitting private citizens to do what the government won't? I, for one, would participate.

    4. Jim Roumeliotis - Hu says:

      There is plenty of money in the school systems. It's just going into the wrong pockets. Excessive waste, unneeded positions and mismanagement erodes the funds that should support our childrens education. In California the "Lottery" was to place additional dollars in the schools coffers to expand the educational budgets…..all it does is allow the state to subtract the amount it generates from schools initial budget……nothing is accomplished except the state funnels those dollars meant for education into other "pet" projects.

    5. Pingback: Kids Preferred The World of Eric Carle Caterpillar Stacking Rings | Kids Building Toys: Lego, Haba, K’Nex, Melissa & Doug, Sprig

    6. Sam, WI says:

      I'm surprised at how few people bring up the fact that the Federal government has no constitutional authority over the education system. Not only is that power not granted to the Federal government but the Constitution clearly says that any powers not given to the federal government are reserved for the states.

    7. republicanmother, tn says:

      If we could pull as many children as possible out of public schools, their "pet projects" money would also dry up.

    8. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      To KKHale…the very thing keeping private citizens from pooling their own resources to help their fellow man, woman and child is the very thing that voted to defund this program…our esteemed federal government specifically the Senate. They continue to take away our resources by force of law either directly through taxes or indirectly through taxes/regulations on the industries for whom we work leaving the majority with little left to give after taking care of their own. The Senate is right to defund it, but they do so for the wrong reason. The Constitution, not the unions, should dictate who gives or doesn't give and who receives and doesn't receive. Let DC itself experiment with the funding of the DCOSP.

    9. Michelle Erickson, W says:

      Reagan tried to get rid of the DoEducation but the left & teacher unions screamed like stuck pigs. They know they can't keep control without using the force of the federal goverment. However, it's time for the States to step up on this issue too. The cost of just RUNNING the Dept of Ed Education & Labor, HHS COMMITTEE last year Jan – Sept was: $5,573,000. They will SPEND in 2010: $714,912,000,000. There are 85 members sitting on that committee. Ask any state superintendent of schools if they #1 NEED the Fed's to tell them what to do and #2 could they put their states portion of those dollars to better use.

      (Data from the 2009 House Disbursements Report Jan – Sept 09)

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.