On the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, which was fairly heavy on education policy, this morning Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announced that they will introduce a bill – the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act – to reinstate the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program: a voucher program for low-income students in the nation’s capital.
Speaker Boehner’s commitment to this issue is underscored by his inviting D.C. Opportunity Scholarship students and advocates of the program as his special guests to last night’s State of the Union address.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has helped thousands of children in the nation’s capital improve their chances at educational success through school choice. However, President Obama stood by as Congress worked to phase out the scholarships.
And despite stating in his speech last night that the responsibility to educate children “begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities,” choosing to phase out school choice weakens parents abilities to “do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.”
Said Speaker Boehner today:
In his State of the Union message last night, President Obama spoke of the vital role education plays in making our nation competitive….That’s what opportunity scholarships are doing in Washington, D.C., and that’s what they’ll do for education throughout America if we give parental choice a chance.
On behalf of the families of D.C.’s inner-city schools – and those of inner-city schools throughout America–I stand with Sen. Lieberman today and respectfully ask the President to take another look at this program. I hope the Obama Administration will assure the children, teachers, and parents of this city that this successful program will be allowed to continue–and work with us, in a bipartisan way, to make it a model for similar programs throughout our country.