Senator Durbin surprised that kids are learning in private schools

It is too bad that he couldn't have visited a private school before the vote earlier this year, but it is better late than never. The subheading on the WSJ piece is "Do you believe in political miracles?"

Low-income families in the District of Columbia got some encouraging words yesterday from an unlikely source. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin signaled that he may be open to reauthorizing the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a school voucher program that allows 1,700 disadvantaged kids to opt out of lousy D.C. public schools and attend a private school.

"I have to work with my colleagues if this is going to be reauthorized, which it might be," said Mr. Durbin at an appropriations hearing Tuesday morning. He also said that he had visited one of the participating private schools and understood that "many students are getting a good education from the program."

Earlier this year, Mr. Durbin inserted language into a spending bill that phases out the program after 2010 unless Congress renews it and the D.C. Council approves. A Department of Education evaluation has since revealed that the mostly minority students are making measurable academic gains and narrowing the black-white learning gap. D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and a majority of the D.C. Council have expressed support for continuing the program.

Mr. Durbin says he still has concerns about how scholarship students are being evaluated. The Senator wants participating schools to administer the same tests to scholarship students that D.C. public school students take. But since the public school test is curriculum-based, and would have to be given in addition to the exams that private schools already administer, some wonder whether Mr. Durbin is simply trying to discourage private schools from accepting scholarship students.

We think Mr. Durbin deserves the benefit of the doubt. . . . .

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home