House to Vote on DC School Vouchers Program Today - UPDATE: Bill Passes

Posted: Mar 30, 2011 1:08 PM
The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a bill that would reinstate funding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps poor, inner-city students escape the District's failing public schools.  Speaker John Boehner has taken the unusual step of sponsoring this legislation himself.  Before it was unceremoniously kneecapped by the White House and Congressional Democrats in 2009, the program had established a track record of improving reading scores, dramatically lifting graduation rates, and winning strong parental satisfaction.   Oh, and it achieved all of this success at roughly one-fourth the cost of per-pupil public school spending.  Let me repeat that:  The DCOSP nearly doubled the high school  graduation rate of its students (compared to their public school peers -- 91 percent vs. 55 percent) at a fraction of the cost.

Today, Republicans and some Democrats are hoping that today marks the beginning of a process to restoring the rescinded funds.  The Obama Administration, of course, opposes the legislation:

While the Administration appreciates that H.R. 471 would provide Federal support for improving public schools in the District of Columbia (D.C.), including expanding and improving high-quality D.C. public charter schools, the Administration opposes the creation or expansion of private school voucher programs that are authorized by this bill. The Federal Government should focus its attention and available resources on improving the quality of public schools for all students. Private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement. The Administration strongly opposes expanding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and opening it to new students.

Indeed!  Discounting better classroom results, higher graduation rates, sky-high parental satisfaction, and glittering cost-effectiveness, "private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement."  Tell that to Virginia Walden Ford.

Boehner's bill would provide a mere $20 million in funding to restore this successful vouchers program -- the beneficiaries of which are almost exclusively indigent black families from inner-city DC.  And yet, the Obama Administration has suddenly found a form of federal spending it can oppose.  What a joke.

UPDATE:  The Heritage Foundation fact checks some mindless demagoguery on this issue emanating from -- who else? -- Nancy Pelosi.

UPDATE II:  The bill has passed, with just one Democrat voting yes, and a handful (at this moment, it's 9) Republicans voting no.  Bravo.  The legislation's future is uncertain, at best.  After all, labor unions Democrats control the Senate and White House.

UPDATE III (3/31): Here's the roll.