Obama’s Ed Budget Has No Room For DC Voucher Program

The Department of Education’s 2013 budget will not provide funding for the D.C. voucher program despite a promise Obama made last April in a budget agreement he signed that helped avert a government shutdown, says the American Federation for Children (AFC).

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) currently provides scholarships to more than 1,600 low-income children to attend the private schools of their parents’ choice.

Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to AFC and a former D.C. Councilman, said:

“The president says he’s for education reform, but his actions continually aim to send low-income and minority students back to schools that are failing them academically, are unsafe, or are otherwise not meeting their needs.

“This latest hypocrisy is just the most recent instance in which the president has stood in the way of students who are improving test scores and graduating in higher numbers.”

Obama barred new students from applying to the OSP after 2009.

Chavous said:

“By any reasonable measure, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has been an overwhelming success.

“President Obama wouldn’t be where he is today without a private school scholarship. He needs to stop playing politics and do what’s right for kids.”

Since the program’s inception in 2004, more than 10,000 families have applied to participate in the OSP.

Lindsey Burke at The Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog believes that in this budget snub, the President is standing against low-income children in Washington, D.C.

“His 2013 budget request zeros out funding for the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was revived last year thanks to the hard work of Speaker John Boehner and the thousands of D.C. families who received scholarships to attend a private school of choice.”

In April 2011, Speaker John Boehner managed to secure the restoration and expansion of the D.C. OSP under President Obama’s nose. Many considered this to be a significant milestone in the “Year of School Choice.”

“The President’s budget request signals that his administration is more interested in propping up a government school system than providing options for children to receive a quality education,” writes Burke.

Under the OSP, student achievement has increased, and graduation rates of voucher students have increased –with students who used a voucher to attend private school had a 91 percent graduation rate.

“Regardless of the prospects of advancement for the budget request, elimination of funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program shows that the Obama administration is not interested in funding “what works.” If the move is not a concession to education special interest groups, the administration should explain why they have placed this critical school choice program on the chopping block.”