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  • Morning Bell: School Choice in D.C. Saved…For Now

    President Obama has begun “evolving“ his positions on various policy issues as polls show him neck and neck with Mitt Romney. His latest about-face restores a popular school voucher program for needy children in Washington, D.C.—after he had yanked its funding.

    Thanks to the tireless efforts of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the Obama Administration has agreed to restore funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship for another year.

    The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which allows children from low-income homes to escape the underperforming D.C. public schools and attend a private school of their choice, has given scholarships to nearly 5,000 children since 2004. Although legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President last year authorized the program to continue for five years, the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2013 went back on his word and eliminated the program’s funding, giving what was authorized for the scholarships to the public schools instead.

    In seeking to end the program, the President sided with the teachers union, which consistently opposes policies like school choice that improve student outcomes.

    Yesterday, Boehner and Lieberman announced they had reached an agreement with the Administration to restore the program for at least the next school year.

    “Thousands of families have taken advantage of this scholarship program to give their children an opportunity to succeed in life, and there’s strong evidence that it’s both effective and cost-effective,” Boehner said.

    The D.C. OSP has been highly successful. According to federally mandated evaluations of the program, student achievement has increased, and graduation rates of voucher students have increased significantly. Graduation rates in D.C. public schools languish (hovering around 55 percent), and the public school system ranks last in the country in terms of academic achievement. Yet, students who used a voucher to attend private school had a 91 percent graduation rate. In addition, 89 percent of OSP graduates have gone on to enroll at a 2- or 4-year college or university.

    And its cost effectiveness is clear. At $8,000, the vouchers are a bargain compared to the more than $18,000 spent per child by D.C. public schools.

    Even more importantly, the OSP gives freedom of choice to parents and hope to children in low-income families. Parents are able to choose a better education for their children, with the aim of lifting them out of poverty. They want schools that are safe, cultivate a positive attitude about learning, and best fit their children’s abilities and interests. Only school choice can satisfy these diverse preferences and expectations, and parents in the OSP have expressed high levels of satisfaction.

    For three years, President Obama fought against this and other school choice programs, and he and Education Secretary Arne Duncan may take up that fight again. But for now, as electoral pressure grew and the popularity of this program expanded, he had little choice but to keep his end of last year’s agreement.

    The program’s restoration was welcome news to Virginia Walden Ford, who fought for school choice in Washington, D.C., for more than 10 years. She now lives in Arkansas and advocates for school choice there.

    “I am excited and relieved that the Obama Administration has worked with D.C. OSP champions Senator Lieberman and Speaker Boehner to make sure the program is fully implemented,” she said. “This means so much to the families who have been so concerned about the future of their children’s educational journey. It is truly incredible news for all the supporters who have fought over the years to make sure all the District’s children have access to a quality education.”

    To hear success stories directly from the children and parents who have benefited from the D.C. OSP, check out “Let Me Rise,” a video produced by The Heritage Foundation.

    Quick Hits

    • The Obama Administration is preparing to implement the rest of Obamacare if only the individual mandate is struck down by the Supreme Court.
    • President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a tense meeting at the G20 summit yesterday. Obama said they “agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence” in Syria.
    • The U.S. is planning to send more than 13,000 troops to Kuwait as uncertainty in the Middle East escalates.
    • “Greece’s two leading pro-bailout parties were continuing efforts Tuesday to form a broad coalition government,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
    • A new oil boom has “produced a whirlwind of economic growth in a formerly sleepy corner of northwest North Dakota,” as a new Heritage video reveals. North Dakota is only one of many states beginning to reap the economic benefits of fracking and other advances in drilling technology to harvest previously inaccessible oil deposits. That is, of course, if the federal government does not disrupt the whole process.
    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    32 Responses to Morning Bell: School Choice in D.C. Saved…For Now

    1. Conservative Dave says:

      My Youngest child did not fit the Illinois public school mold in the 1970s. My wife and I sacrificed a lot to pay the tuition so he could attend a quality private school. A voucher would have helped a lot. For DC parents and others across the U.S. vouchers and charter schools are the only way their children have a chance to receive a quality education. In the long run vouchers save tax payers money. It costs far less to pay for a voucher than to pay for handout entitlements or jail time.

    2. G. Hugh Bodell says:

      The problem as I see it is that Mr. Obama is not to be trusted. He has not altered his idealogy or dedication to socialism and policies that resemble closely those of the former 'failed' Soviet Union. All of these 'fixes' are simply posturing to fool the electorate into believing he is becoming 'moderate'. After November 6, 2012, if he is still in office, the intentional destruction of the United States culture and independence will begin in ernest and will be absolutely unbridaled.

    3. Ken Jarvis says:

      Why does – Your Side – Always want to make things Complicated?
      Who decided Who can go where?
      ALL schools should be improved.
      THAT is what Obama Wants – GOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
      LVKen7@Gmail.com

      • Janice G says:

        Mr Jarvis, Of course that is what ALL of America wants, good public schools!!! But this cannot be achieved as long as teachers unions rule the roost!! Get rid of the unions and you will see the quality of our education rise!!! If you don't believe me, look at the statistics from 1940s to present and ask yourself 'when did the federal government get involved in our educational system?' (Answer: Jimmy Carter). It is at that point (1980s ish – to current) you will see a sharp decline in the quality of our system (especially math & science). If you check President Obama's past, even when was campaigning in 08, he has been AGAINST the voucher program!!!

      • Clearhead says:

        Hello again, Kenny boy. You seem to be seeking answers — well, here are some: To begin with, OUR side consists of patriotic, genuine and thinking Americans (just so you know whom you're addressing). Although what we always want may seem complicated to you, in reality it's usually the simplest and most logical goals we aim for — such as, in this case, $8,000 per student instead of $18,000, AND a superior and unbiased education as well. As for your other question, ("Who decided Who can go where?"), Free standing, this 'question' is convoluted and has no logical answer, except for what is referred to below. You have made one good point in your post that "ALL schools should be improved"; however, you seem to have confused your last statement with the earlier one about 'who' and 'where', etc. Let us set you straight on this one: Your statement, "THAT is what Obama wants – GOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS". should have read "THAT is what Obama wants – TO DECIDE WHO CAN GO WHERE !!! (AND WHEN AND HOW)"
        And P.S. A preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with. Semper Fi.

      • Jill says:

        No Ken, He wants a permanent underclass relying on govt. handouts in order to exist. they are also permanent dem voters. read the Amateur. There must be some little part of you that cares about the future of this great country.

      • Todd says:

        Obama does not want good schools – he wants schools he can control and make sure our youth is indoctrinated properly. You are so naive!

      • Davey Jones says:

        Ken: ask yourself this — WHY do the teachers' unions fight so strenuously against choice (SCHOOL choice, that is)? They get large amounts of dues money from their members, then use that to campaign for those politicians who will roll over to their demands.
        In reality, we have a situation where the minority kids are consigned to a government-operated monopoly (i.e. third-rate) school system.
        They complain about not enough money for the public schools, but actually the problem is:
        — not HOW MUCH money is spent, but rather HOW money is spent.
        Meanwhile, the minority kids are chained to a PLANTATION school system. There is/was only one other such school system: the so-called Bantu schools under the former apartheid regime in South Africa.

      • Bobbie says:

        If past and present government wanted good public schools, we'd have nothing less and exploitation of children to get their way, wouldn't exist. The more feds interfere, the less educated the children have gotten.

        There's too much government control in bias and corruption Mr. Jarvis and Obama's unconstitutional government doesn't belong where practical reasoning puts parents with state government and where corrupt unions backed by government is a burdensome conflict of interest that can be removed if there were people in government that really wants GOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS!

    4. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      "At $8,000, the vouchers are a bargain compared to the more than $18,000 spent per child by D.C. public schools."

      I wonder where the difference goes. No wonder the unions are howling.

    5. barker13theoriginal says:

      Is the federal government still BORROWING roughly 43-cents of every dollar it spends on OPERATING expenses?

      Is the point of this latest Heritage Foundation mailing to inform me that the Republicans under the inspired "leadership" of John Boehner have struck a deal with President Obama to… er… NOT go through with a spending cut?

      Are you – Amy Payne – expecting me to jump up and down with glee at this latest "win" by Boehner?

      IS IT ME FOLKS…?!?!

      • wallyblu says:

        Apparently you didn't do the math. $18000.00 for each child in DC schools minus $8000.00 for each child that leaves the DC schools means a savings of $10000.00 a piece.

        In other words for every 100 children that takes advantage of this program the Government will save one Million Dollars.

    6. Sin says:

      I am sorry. Why should my tax dollars be used for something that is only beneficial for children living in the DC area.

      • Davey Jones says:

        Ken: ask yourself this — WHY do the teachers' unions fight so strenuously against choice (SCHOOL choice, that is)? They get large amounts of dues money from their members, then use that to campaign for those politicians who will roll over to their demands.

    7. toledofan says:

      The flip flopper in chief is at it again; do or say whatever it takes to get re-elected. It's like we shouldn't even consider the last 3.5 plus years, none of this nonsense ever happened. Are we supposed to be considered that stupid?

    8. Shirley A Mucci says:

      and how come the DC schools or any other school in this nation underperforming? The United States
      does not care about its children ? Iam glad the scholarschip is happening, but come on folks
      these kids are our future stop not carring…..Do something….

    9. elizabeth groves says:

      Vouchers will not get children into good private schools. Those schools are just to expensive. I would like to see the list of schools these children now attend. My guess is that the Catholic schools benefited most and then Charter schools that can be good or poor. Bet none got into Sidwell Friends.

    10. Akneda says:

      I thank God for Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman. I just don't understand the President. He claims to want to help the poor but takes away a great program that gives children the opportunity to improve their futures. In my mind, this program should be expanded to give access to every child in the United States!

    11. Educate (y)our children in public, private, or parochial schools

      The object of raising our children and teaching them in the right way should be to provide the best education for (y)our children whether it is in the public, private, or parochial schools, and/or even in home schools.

      Not so for left-wing Democrats. More and more Democrats want to force parents to attend (y)our child(ren) to schools driven by National Education Association (NEA) Labor Union teachers who may choose to cram their anti-Christian “public schools” and what is also becoming anti-Constitutional education down the throats of all parents with children.

      Most teachers in the “public schools” are great teachers; however, many are less than quality teachers who are teaching the “wrong values” and/or failing to teach the “right values”.

      Parents must be allowed to send their child(ren) to the public, private, or parochial schools, and/or even in home school(s) of their choice and receive an equal amount of taxpayers’ funding.

    12. Educate (y)our children in public, private, or parochial schools

      The object of raising our children and teaching them in the right way should be to provide the best education for (y)our children whether it is in the public, private, or parochial schools, and/or even in home schools.

      Not so for left-wing Democrats. More and more Democrats want to force parents to attend (y)our child(ren) to schools driven by National Education Association (NEA) Labor Union teachers who may choose to cram their anti-Christian “public schools” and what is also becoming anti-Constitutional education down the throats of all parents with children.

      Most teachers in the “public schools” are great teachers; however, many are less than quality teachers who are teaching the “wrong values” and/or failing to teach the “right values”.

      Parents must be allowed to send their child(ren) to the public, private, or parochial schools, and/or even in home school(s) of their choice and receive an equal amount of taxpayers’ funding.

    13. ckirkland says:

      Should we say "reelection" if not why did he take it away before?? Just asking ck

    14. Jeanne Stotler says:

      We sacrificed a lot to send our older cildren to Parochial school, as my mother had done for me. I am glad we did, just sorry we were not closed to a parochial school in Florida, for the younger 3. Whilepart of a child's education takes place in school, it's theparents who instill the most important values and follows up on teachings and adds to the lessons sent home. A lot of children come home to an empty house and homework is left undone, no one checks the spelling or has the child read back to them. Teachers do not teach the basics they are too busy indoctorating these young minds. If I had to do over, I would still send my kids parochial school and be learning.

    15. O2BMe says:

      This is great news for DC children. Let the money follow the child. The child will get a better eduction at a much lower cost. I do believe though that you can not expect this to last if Obama is reelected. This is just using the children to get votes. When reelected he will cancel it again.

    16. Char says:

      I'm still confused why he got rid of it in the first place…

      I am a graduate student in education and was recently in an educational policy class. From the comments that were made, the class was obviously predominantly liberal. I am becoming very concerned about socialist ideas creeping into our country that are masked by other good-sounding terms such as "equal opportunity." I love the idea of trying to make things fair for students, but when educators are willing to sacrifice CHOICE in education and QUALITY education just to ensure each student gets the SAME education, there is something wrong. Many students in this class felt that school choice "destroys the public school system." If there is better education out there, the public school needs to fail or improve. No parent should feel guilty for wanting the best education for their child.

      The big problem in education is teacher unions and lack of teacher training. Today, education majors tend to score the lowest on achievement tests and barely understand the material they are teaching. I am teaching teachers and it is a little scary how watered-down I have to make things for them. Students that can't calculate their own grades are going to teach kids how to divide?

      Families are the key. Start there and there will be less need for government involvement.

    17. PhilG says:

      Glad that Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman stuck with it for those kids in DC. Did someone forget to tell Obama that the kids are too young to vote?

    18. muskegonlibertarian says:

      Schools of choice has been something I've supported now for decades.

    19. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Good. Obama and the teachers' unions oppose it.

    20. Ron W. Smith says:

      Good post, Ms. Payne. As one who is involved in trying to make the long-term funding of public education a priority in my home state, I can see great possibility for OSP. The downside, of course, is the nightmare for planners–those trying to project enrollments where students are mobile, not fixed. Whatever the nightmare, though, what is best for students should be the only consideration, not what is best considering budgetary constraints. Those constraints have been used around the country at the expense of students for too long, and it has cost America dearly in its quest for anything resembling educational excellence.

    21. Joseph McKennan says:

      I am all in favor of giving under privileged children assistance. It should be done without a lot of grandstanding by politicians. They are doing their job– what greatness is it that they are exhibiting. I still DO NOT LIKE BOEHNER. When he shows he is not just another parasite at the carcass of the United States maybe I'll change my mind

    22. CommonwealthFDTN says:

      School choice can save kids from underperfoming schools, teachers and even violence. The fight continues in Pennsylvania, find out the facts below. http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/research/de

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