The Opportunity Scholarship didn't offer the full $20,000 that the district squanders on its public schools. It was worth just $7,000, but that was enough to get Ronald into a Catholic school.
"I was actually challenged academically," he said. "I remember when I was in the public school system, my teacher left in the middle of the year. I remember doing crossword puzzles and stuff like that. We weren't actually learning."
He says most of his government-school teachers acted like they didn't care. His mother, who's from Trinidad, was going to send him there because the schools are better than American schools.
"She wasn't going to continue to just let this system fail me."
But he got the voucher and a good education, and now he's in college.
Despite the data showing that voucher kids are ahead in reading, the biggest teachers union, the NEA claims: "The D.C. voucher program has been a failure. It's yielded no evidence of positive impact on student achievement."
Holassie asks: "How is it a failure when the public school system is failing students? I don't understand that."
I don't understand it either. Vouchers aren't a perfect solution, but they are better that leaving every student a prisoner of a government monopoly. District government schools have only a 49 percent graduation rate. Ninety-one percent of the voucher students graduate.
Why would the union call that a failure? Because vouchers allow parents to make choices, and many parents would chose non-union, non-government-run schools. The school establishment can't abide this. Too much money and power are at stake.