DC City Council Wants Vouchers
The life and death saga of the D.C. voucher program for low-income families continues. A majority of the members of the D.C. Council recently sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan expressing solid support for continuing the program. "We strongly urge you to stand with us in supporting these children and continuing the District's Opportunity Scholarship Program," says the letter. "We believe we simply cannot turn our backs on these families because doing so will deny their children the quality education they deserve."
Earlier this year Illinois Senator Dick Durbin added language to a spending bill that phases out the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program after next year. The program provides 1,700 kids $7,500 per year to use toward tuition at a private school of their parents' choosing. Mr. Durbin's amendment says no federal money can be spent on the program beyond 2010 unless Congress reauthorizes it and the D.C. Council approves.
The D.C. Council's letter shows that support for these vouchers is real at the local level and that the opposition exists mainly at the level of the national Democratic Party. Mr. Durbin has suggested that he included the D.C. Council provision in deference to local control. "The government of Washington, D.C., should decide whether they want it in their school district," he said in March. Well now we know where D.C. stands. We will now see if the national party stands for putting union power and money above the future of poor children.