Ken Blackwell

It’s not often these days that I get a chance to commend The Washington Post editorial page. But I cannot help cheering for their excellent support for D.C. Opportunity Scholarships. I fully endorse their criticism of the Obama administration and liberals in Congress. These Opportunity Scholarships are vouchers worth up to $7,500 that have allowed parents of poor kids to send their children to schools of their choice. The vouchers are wildly popular with parents. Four times as many parents applied to receive them as could be funded under the old, rather limited appropriation. President Obama’s own education department has issued studies showing that these scholarship students are up to one half year ahead of their public school peers.

Now, even this very limited program is slated for destruction. President Obama’s chosen Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, supports the vouchers. So do Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. All are Democrats. These public officials, regrettably, have been rather muted in their criticism of the Obama-congressional decision to give the program the axe. Former Mayor Anthony Williams and former D.C. City Councilman Kevin Chavous—to their credit—continue to speak up for children.

Unfortunately, the Senate recently voted 58 to 39 to kill the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships. Private school alumnus Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) manned the wrecking ball.

Our friends at the Heritage Foundation analyzed the vote. They found that if only those Senate voucher opponents who send their own children to private schools had voted for the scholarships, they would have passed. The Post editors rightly point out that twice as many Members of Congress (20 percent) as the general population attended private schools growing up.

The Post would like to know which senators voted to cut off parental choice for poor children in Washington—while sending their own children to expensive private schools. So would I. This is a worthy project for investigative journalists. We do know that President and Mrs. Obama are sending their own beloved daughters to Sidwell Friends School—and that two scholarship kids who go to that school are in danger of being dropped.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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