(Guest post by Dan Lips)
On Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty testified on Capitol Hill about President Bush’s budget proposal for the D.C. education system. The Bush administration has called for a significant boost in funding for D.C. schools, including $18 million to continue the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. This program currently helps more than 1,900 disadvantaged children attend private schools, thanks to federally-funded school vouchers.
The Washington Post editorialized in favor of continuing the voucher program—
Political ideology and partisan gamesmanship should not be allowed to blow apart the educational hopes of hundreds of D.C. children. Congress must respect the judgment of District leaders in giving parents a choice in one of the most crucial aspects of their children’s lives…
… There are 1,900 children enrolled — quite happily — in the program. What’s at stake is not a political point of honor but the opportunity for children to go to schools that work for them.
Columnist William McGurn also referenced the D.C. voucher program in his column in the Wall Street Journalurging Senator McCain to champion school choice policies. McGurn quoted D.C. parent leader Virginia Walden Ford talking about the importance of the program. “Many of the parents I know in D.C. are looking for a safe place for their children,” says Walden-Ford…”Their children can’t afford to wait – they need a place now.”
As Members of Congress debate whether to continue the D.C. voucher program, they should take a look at the emerging research from the School Choice Demonstration Project. This research covers important topics from families’ (generally positive) experiences in the program to the initial evidence from the federally-mandated academic evaluation.