• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Saving Money Through School Choice

    Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) has made some pretty absurd comments over the years. Most notably, perhaps, was her quip that “we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what is in it.” But comments sent out in a press release yesterday rival that condescending statement. In a release concerning House Speaker John Boehner’s (R–OH) efforts to repeal Obamacare, Pelosi added:

    Speaker Boehner plans to bring to the floor his own legislation that moves to privatize public education in the District of Columbia. … [It] is an ideological effort to recreate a program that was ended years ago because it did not work.

    Where to begin? The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP) has been a resounding success. Congressionally mandated evaluations of the scholarship program by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that DCOSP children are making gains in academic achievement, particularly reading achievement. Notably, students who received a voucher and used it to attend private school had a 91 percent graduation rate. Graduation rates in D.C. Public Schools stand at just around 55 percent. Clearly, the program works.

    Moreover, the scholarships were not ended; they were placed on life support when Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL) placed language into an omnibus spending bill in 2009 prohibiting new students from entering the program. Ask the nearly 1,100 students who are currently benefiting from vouchers to attend private school whether the program was “ended,” as Pelosi claims.

    Instead, Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman (ID–CT) have introduced a bill to reauthorize the DCOSP, and to lift the prohibition on new students from entering. The proposal would take the program off life support and ensure that quality school choice options exist for low-income families in D.C.

    In what could be the most consequential education vote of the year, Boehner’s Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act will be voted on in the House tomorrow. A sign of the importance the Speaker places on school choice, it’s the only bill he plans to sponsor this year.

    Pelosi’s intimation that providing school choice to low-income children in the nation’s capitol creates some sort of fiscal burden is also woefully incorrect. The DCOSP is a fiscally responsible plan to ensure that low-income students in the nation’s capitol have access to a quality education. The DCOSP:

    • Restores original alignment to D.C. educational improvement. Since 2004, the highly successful and popular DCOSP has been funded as part of a three-sector approach to improving education in Washington, D.C. That plan had provided equal amounts of funding for the DCOSP, D.C. Public Charter Schools, and D.C. Public Schools (DCPS). But in 2009, Congress upset the balance of the three-sector approach by tripling the appropriation for DCPS while simultaneously starting to phase out the DCOSP.
    • Reduces spending and prioritizes choice. The proposal to restore and expand the DCOSP also reduces spending for the three-sector approach by $15.4 million. The $60 million authorization being proposed is $15.4 million less than the current baseline appropriation of $75.4 million for fiscal year 2010.
    • Shifts funds to what works. Proposals to restore the DCOSP would reduce overall funding for the three-sector approach and shift money to what works: parental choice in education. Under the proposal, each of the sectors would receive $20 million in funding.

    The $7,500 scholarships offered through the DCOSP are also a far more cost-effective and efficient way to spend precious taxpayer resources:

    • DCPS has among the highest per-pupil expenditures in the country yet ranks 51st in terms of academic achievement. It also has a poor school safety record.
    • Per-pupil spending in DCPS now exceeds $17,600—more than twice the amount of the DCOSP. While the House and Senate reauthorization bills would increase the scholarships to $8,000 and $12,000 for elementary and secondary students, respectively, the vouchers would still be significantly less than per-pupil spending in DCPS.

    Providing school choice to children living in the nation’s capital should be a priority for any lawmaker who cares about equality of opportunity, parental empowerment, and increasing education outcomes. The icing on the cake of the DCOSP is that it’s a fiscally responsible plan to accomplish those goals.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Saving Money Through School Choice

    1. George Colgrove VA says:

      Go one-step further from a government run system that supports choice to a fully private system, coupled with LOCAL tax collections that go towards a minimum voucher that will aid in sending the crumb-crunchers to any one of the nearby schools that are competing with each other for those dollars. No useless overpaid federal workers in bloated and slothy DC bureaucracies or corresponding state or local worker bodies that suck off the taxpayer. Make these schools businesses and let the customer's dollars provide the necessary oversight.

      Education is a commodity. Once can say that providing educations (i.e. funding) is a collective effort, as Benjamin Franklin believed. However, this does not mean we need to use public dollars to pay extremely high salaries of administrators, teachers, and whoever to educate our children. The Bush/Obama era will be known for when the public worker was exposed for their greedy and unreasonable position in how public dollars are spent. Towns, states, and the federal government are all bleeding money and the taxpayer is near dead for having no blood for themselves.

      Forcing full competition in our education by making every school private will not only save a huge amount of money, because teaching and education administration will no longer be a easy way to make large sums of money, future teachers will want to be there to educate, not to get rich.

      Now mind you Teaching 9 out of 12 months at a salary twice that of a teacher in the private sector will not make a person a millionaire – at least in the short term. However, the relative difference will invite bad people to go into education for the big bucks.

      I knew of a guy from college who did just that. Let me just say I would never let him near anyone’s daughter. He was asked to leave his first teaching gig. He got into educations for the simple reason, high pay, and summers off.

      We have to start being honest about public employee pay and benefits and get them back into sync with the private sector. The high cost of this alone is killing this nation. Making public programs (like education) private and force them to compete will provide a natural path to that end.

    2. Bobbie says:

      Thank goodness for John Boehner and Joe Lieberman. Never thought a democrat would give me reason to thank! It's just of great concern why they spend time and money on focus to remove "what works."

      George, you consider everything! Wish more in government had the mind to…

    3. OhioHistorian says:

      It was Joseph Goebbels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it is true. Nancy making absurd claims, followed by the megaphones of the left-wing press, is such an organization.

      And if you don't know who Joseph Goebbels is, you were probably educated in a public school.

    4. Dawn E, MD says:

      I'd like school choice to go one step further. Why can't we opt-out of the statist (oops, public) school system and take the average per-capita expenditure per student as a tax exemption and use those funds to put our kids into private schools? Hmm, I wonder. Could it be that the thought police could no longer use the public schools to shape our children's emerging worldview?

    5. Genevieve Snyder--- says:

      The public schools were so bad in our area, we had to send our children to private schools.We ended up paying for both schools,the private one and the public schools. I really cannot understand what is fair about that. The public schools in Washington would be much better if they had more competition. Charter schools are not even allowed in this state. Just what are the UNIONS afraid of. We have had over 50 exchange students live with us over the years. They can't believe how poor our schools are academically.

    6. Richard Ahern 36620 says:

      Competition sets higher standards. The schools are not failing for the purpose the left has for them. The School system we have today is exactly what it was designed to be, a place to detach children from the values of their parents, destroy their moral foundations and degrade their ability to think independently. There is no excuse for any parent who would knowingly sacrifice his son or daughter to the fires of this Moloch, no excuse for wittingly allowing a child to remain within the system for one day longer than necessary! I have heard it said that home school is not for everyone, but I say that the America public school system is for no one.

      The Supreme Court rulled in Pierce v Society of Sisters, 1925 (268 US 510) that parents have a right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. "The fundamental theory of liberty upon which al governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forceing them to accept instrution from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state.

      Waste Watchers Inc

      P.O.BOX 7085

      Fremont, California 94537

      Richard Ahern-Vice President

      rgahern@att.net

      (510) 791-7964
      http://www.wastewatchersinc.org

    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.

    ×