- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
Vouchers available to 1,788 D.C. students
Allow parents to enhance children’s learning chances at a private school
More than 1,700 students from the District will get the chance to attend a private school this year through a federal voucher program, despite an ongoing debate among leaders in the city and on Capitol Hill about whether “school choice” should stay within the bounds of the public school system.
The D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corp., which has administered the program since June 2010, has completed its lottery and announced this week it will be awarding 1,489 scholarships to returning students and 299 scholarships to new students, a total of 1,788. Among the students who received new scholarships, 75 percent had attended a public school or public charter school designated as “in need of improvement,” according to the trust.
The new recipients were selected from 1,300 applications, of which 505 eligible students participated in a lottery for the vouchers.
Congress established the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in 2004, a first-of-its-kind program for the city’s parents who want to send their disadvantaged children to Catholic schools or other private facilities instead of struggling public schools.
Mr. Obama had not included any funding for the politically sensitive scholarship program in his fiscal 2013 budget proposal, part of a trend by his administration since 2009 to phase out the program by funding only existing enrollees.
But House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent — two high-profile supporters of vouchers — announced in June that they had struck an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education to carry out the program with no specific cap on enrollment, so both new and existing enrollees can apply to the program.
The administration depicted the pact as more limited in scope than that of Capitol Hill lawmakers, who claimed Mr. Obama had “reversed course” through the agreement. The U.S. Department of Education said that rather than an open-ended program, it wanted to increase enrollment from 1,615 to about 1,700 students for the coming year to allow for a “statistically valid evaluation of the program.”
“Though we agreed to allow a modest increase in the number of students admitted to the D.C. voucher program next year to comply with a congressionally-mandated study, there has been absolutely no change in policy,” DOE spokesman Justin Hamilton said Thursday. “Our focus is on making sure all students get a world-class education. The best way to do that is by reforming our public school system.”
It remains to be seen whether final enrollment under the D.C. voucher program will pass the 1,700 mark.
“Not every student who is awarded a scholarship will use it, therefore we won’t have actual enrollment numbers until we issue the first checks for the program in October to know who actually used their scholarship,” said Ed Davies, vice president of external affairs for the trust.
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, a Democrat, has opposed the voucher program, arguing that true school choice lies with a robust system of traditional public schools and charter schools.
But Robert C. Bobb, chairman of the trust’s board of directors, said the program is “a valuable resource in helping the city move toward its goal of providing every child in the District of Columbia with a great education.”
For the upcoming school year, scholarship amounts increased from $12,000 to $12,205 for high school students and from $8,000 to $8,136 for middle and elementary school students, according to the trust.
Despite an expansion of funding, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in June that his department remains “convinced that our time and resources are best spent on reforming the public school system to benefit all students, and we look forward to working with Congress in a bipartisan manner to advance that goal.”
A 2010 study mandated by Congress found “no conclusive evidence” the voucher program improved student achievement, but it “significantly improved” students’ chance of graduating from high school.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Obama admin.: One in 10 Obamacare forms might have errors
- Obama administration knew of key Obamacare delay in August, emails say
- House Speaker John Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
- Young millennials shun Obamacare, creating risky imbalance
- Almost 1.5 million deemed eligible for Medicaid in October alone: Obama administration
Latest Blog Entries
- Calif.: Give 'gift of health' by pledging cash for the uninsured
- Tensions hit boiling point over Obamacare enrollment figures, error rates
- Young, uninsured adults vital to Obamacare are not keen on enrolling: New Harvard poll
- Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will promote Obamacare at Mall of America
- HealthCare.gov employs a new look once again
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Craigslist killers: Police say newlyweds stabbed man for thrills
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: I do
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.
Classical music and the performing arts: news and reviews you can use.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
White House pets gone wild!