For the second time, Representative John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman have partnered to save the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that was about to become victim of congressional budget cuts. The program, which provided low-income students in the District with vouchers that could be applied towards tuition in any public school, was on the chopping block until Boehner and Lieberman worked with President Obama on a compromise plan to save it.
Although the program was funded last year, in his proposed budget for the fiscal year 2013 President Obama completely zeroed out its funding, effectively putting an end to it after this school year. The proposed budget meant that 30 DC students who had been offered scholarships had them yanked by the Department of Education.
According to the release issued by Boehner announcing the compromise, the students will now get their scholarships back:
There will be no cap on enrollment in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.
Parents seeking to renew their child’s scholarship can continue to submit their applications and they will be notified as soon as possible.
Parents whose children don’t currently participate in the program may apply for a new scholarship, and they will be notified as soon as their applications are processed.
The compromise also lifts the 1,615 cap on the program, which means that any child who qualifies may participate. The Department of Education will continue to oversee the program, which has previously showed improvement in participants’ graduation rates.
Earlier this month, National Review’s Mona Charen called out the President for seeking to defund a program allows participants to enroll in the same excellent school that he had chosen for his own daughters. Two of the program’s participants attended Sidwell Friends, thanks to the vouchers, which is also the President’s daughter Sasha and Malia go to school.
The President is on the record as opposing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program because it doesn’t actually improve student academic outcomes. But according to the data collected by the Black Alliance for Education Options, students who take advantage of the scholarships graduate high school at an astounding 91% rate. This exceeds the graduation rate of those who qualify for the scholarship but don’t take advantage of it by more than 20%. It is
The repeated attempts to get rid of the program are particularly at odds with the President’s commitment to improve education for the lower-income American students in light of the fact that the average income level of participating families is a mere $24,000 a year.