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D.C. Families Bemoan Imminent Loss of Voucher Program


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Saw this story on the morning news today. Elections have consequences is what I thought.

However, if there were smart people on the right, there would be press conferences and a very big deal made over this.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/04/14/dc-families-bemoan-imminent-loss-voucher-program/

For the past three years, 8-year-old Nico Bennett has attended and enjoyed private school through the voucher program in Washington.

"I like it a lot, and I get good grades," she told FOX News.

Nico's mother, Latasha Bennett, thought her 4-year-old daughter, Nia, also had qualified for a voucher, until the Bennetts and 199 other families got letters last week saying "no scholarships will be awarded to new students this year."

Bennett said she was disgusted.

"Education is our children's future," she told FOX News. "Without the proper education, there's nothing."

The D.C. program gives about 1,700 low-income children scholarships worth up to $7,500, paid for with federal taxpayer dollars each year to cover costs of attending private schools -- rather than the long-troubled D.C. public schools. The five-year pilot program was set to expire this year until Congress extended the program for only one more school year.

As a result, Education Secretary Arne Duncan decided not to offer vouchers for new students.

"To put them in for a year and then put them out didn't make sense," he said.

The issue of vouchers has exposed a deep fissure between Republicans, who support them, and Democrats, who oppose them.

Republicans insist that parents deserve a choice if their kids are in failing schools, saying vouchers create competition that puts pressure on public schools to do better.

Democrats, teachers' unions and other opponents say it is impossible to expect public schools to do better while precious public dollars are being siphoned away to private schools.

But the voucher program in Washington has been an exception in the debate over vouchers. Because of the sorry state of public schools in the nation's capitol, some Democrats were willing to allow it in 2003 when a Republican-led Congress created the voucher program.

It is the only federal voucher program in the country. Other cities and states have similar programs -- vouchers are available in Milwaukee, Cleveland, Florida, Utah, Arizona and Georgia -- but they are paid for with local tax dollars.

Supporters of vouchers have said teachers unions are putting pressure on Congress and the Obama administration to kill the voucher program in Washington. But Duncan insists that had nothing to do with it.

"No, that's a non-issue," he said. "The issue for me is I'm really concerned about the 1,700 students. We want to try and make sure they can stay in schools they want to be in."

Meanwhile, voucher program students, such as sophomore Ronald Holassie, wonder if they'll be able to stay in their schools or return to the D.C. public schools.

"It hits me in the hardest year -- senior year. It's going to hit me that I have to go back. All that I worked for in my high school years, I would lose."

Two other students who would lose are Sarah and James Parker. They go to Sidwell Friends, the same private school Sasha and Malia Obama attend. They'll have to go back to public school at the end of next year unless Congress and the D.C. City Council approve extending the voucher program.

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Seems to me voucher dollars should not be carved out of current education budgets, they should be in addition to. That would essentially take the teeth out of the Dems/union argument. Besides, it's not like we're getting bang for buck out of DC schools. Money isn't the problem there-they already spend a ton. The problem is the deadbeat parents.

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Seems to me voucher dollars should not be carved out of current education budgets, they should be in addition to. That would essentially take the teeth out of the Dems/union argument. Besides, it's not like we're getting bang for buck out of DC schools. Money isn't the problem there-they already spend a ton. The problem is the deadbeat parents.

This was only costing 1.2 million dollars per year apparently

Small small small beans when compared to the overall federal education budget (80 plus billion?)

From CATO

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/04/03/dc-vouchers-better-results-at-a-quarter-the-cost/

The latest federal study of the D.C. voucher program finds that voucher students have pulled significantly ahead of their public school peers in reading and perform at least as well as public school students in math. It also reports that the average tuition at the voucher schools is $6,620. That is ONE QUARTER what the District of Columbia spends per pupil on education ($26,555), according to the District’s own fiscal year 2009 budget.
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I was a fan of the Achievable Dream Program in newport news virginia.

I was a fan of the Voucher program in D.C.

You have to do extraordinary things to benchmark success or failure.

BOTH have succeeded and both are a singularity at the moment.

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Seems to me voucher dollars should not be carved out of current education budgets, they should be in addition to. ....
Doesn't need to be

Voucher Programs can cost LESS than standard Public education....and do a better job

"The $7,500 voucher is a bargain for taxpayers because it costs the public schools about 50% more, or $13,000 a year, to educate a child in the public schools. And we use the word “educate” advisedly because D.C. schools are among the worst in the nation."

http://eriksyring.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/washington-dc-vouchers-democrats-putting-children-last-and-obama/

This issue is a winner....if the Loser Republicans can get the word out (like Immersion vs Bilingual education in California)

But Dems want to HIDE the fact that VOUCHERS WORK

Democrats Delay Release of Report Showing Success of DC Voucher Program Until After Senate Can Vote to Kill It

http://www.butasforme.com/2009/04/06/democrats-delay-release-of-report-showing-success-of-dc-voucher-program-until-after-senate-can-vote-to-kill-it/

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Well, the only reason why it is needed in DC is because the DC school system is so awful and a money pit. In this case, you almost do want less money going to the DC school system since they waste so much of it.

I also think it has little to do with teachers unions and more to do with the graft and bureaucracy that is in the system. The Post did a good series on the DC school system a year or two ago and was pretty good at identifying why it was a mess. It is a good example about how more money doesn't fix the problems.

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I predicted this last year when the Teachers Union was determined to eliminate this success.

Heck the stories of parents of all races with school vouchers or the ability to pay out of pocket sleeping out over night to get a slot for their kids last year at one of the best elementary and middle schools put the DC public schools in a bad light.

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....This is a political-union thing. Plain and simple.
Further:

The Union War on Charter Schools

......But these reformers are starting to learn that appeasement on vouchers only whets unions appetites for eliminating all meaningful types of choice. With voucher programs facing termination in Washington, D.C., and heavy regulation in Milwaukee, the teachers unions have now set their sights on charter schools. Despite their proclamations about supporting charters, the actions of unions and their allies in state and national politics belie their rhetoric.

In New York, for example, the unions have backed a new budget that effectively cuts $51.5 million from charter-school funding, even as district-school spending can continue to increase thanks to local taxes and stimulus money that the charters lack. New York charters already receive less money per pupil than their district school counterparts; now they will receive even less.......

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123985052084823887.html

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http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/04/20/williams_obama_dc/

As I watch Washington politics I am not easily given to rage.

Washington politics is a game and selfishness, out-sized egos and corruption are predictable.

But over the last week I find myself in a fury.

The cause of my upset is watching the key civil rights issue of this generation — improving big city public school education — get tossed overboard by political gamesmanship. If there is one goal that deserves to be held above day-to-day partisanship and pettiness of ordinary politics it is the effort to end the scandalous poor level of academic achievement and abysmally high drop-out rates for America’s black and Hispanic students.

The reckless dismantling of the D.C. voucher program does not speak well of the promise by Obama to be the “Education President.”

This is critical to our nation’s future in terms of workforce preparation to compete in a global economy but also to fulfill the idea of racial equality by providing a real equal opportunity for all young people who are willing to work hard to succeed.

In a politically calculated dance step the Obama team first indicated that they wanted the Opportunity Scholarship Program to continue for students lucky enough to have won one of the vouchers. The five-year school voucher program is scheduled to expire after the school year ending in June 2010. Secretary Duncan said in early March that it didn’t make sense “to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning…those kids need to stay in their school.”

And all along the administration indicated that pending evidence that this voucher program or any other produces better test scores for students they were willing to fight for it. The president has said that when it comes to better schools he is open to supporting “what works for kids.” That looked like a level playing field on which to evaluate the program and even possibly expanding the program.

But last week Secretary Duncan announced that he will not allow any new students to enter the D.C. voucher program. In fact, he had to take back the government’s offer of scholarships to 200 students who had won a lottery to get into the program starting next year. His rationale is that if the program does not win new funding from Congress then those students might have to go back to public school in a year.

He does not want to give the students a chance for a year in a better school? That does not make sense if the students and their families want that life-line of hope. It does not make sense if there is a real chance that the program might win new funding as parents, educators and politicians rally to undo the “bigotry of low expectations” and open doors of opportunity — wherever they exist — for more low-income students.

And now Secretary Duncan has applied a sly, political check-mate for the D.C. voucher plan.

With no living, breathing students profiting from the program to give it a face and stand and defend it the Congress has little political pressure to put new money into the program. The political pressure will be coming exclusively from the teacher’s unions who oppose the vouchers, just as they oppose No Child Left Behind and charter schools and every other effort at reforming public schools that continue to fail the nation’s most vulnerable young people, low income blacks and Hispanics.

The National Education Association and other teachers’ unions have put millions into Democrats’ congressional campaigns because they oppose Republican efforts to challenge unions on their resistance to school reform and specifically their refusal to support ideas such as performance-based pay for teachers who raise students’ test scores.

By going along with Secretary Duncan’s plan to hollow out the D.C. voucher program this president, who has spoken so passionately about the importance of education, is playing rank politics with the education of poor children. It is an outrage.

This voucher programs is unique in that it takes no money away from the beleaguered District of Columbia Public Schools. Nationwide, the strongest argument from opponents of vouchers is that it drains hard-to-find dollars from public schools that educate the majority of children.

But Congress approved the D.C. plan as an experiment and funded it separately from the D.C. school budget. It is the most generous voucher program in the nation, offering $7,500 per child to help with tuition to a parochial or private school.

With that line of attack off the table, critics of vouchers pointed out that even $7,500 is not enough to pay for the full tuition to private schools where the price of a year’s education can easily go beyond $20,000. But nearly 8,000 students applied for the vouchers. And a quarter of them, 1,714 children, won the lottery and took the money as a ticket out of the D.C. public schools.

The students, almost all of them black and Hispanic, patched together the voucher money with scholarships, other grants and parents willing to make sacrifices to pay their tuition.

What happened, according to a Department of Education study, is that after three years the voucher students scored 3.7 months higher on reading than students who remained in the D.C. schools. In addition, students who came into the D.C. voucher program when it first started had a 19 month advantage in reading after three years in private schools.

It is really upsetting to see that the Heritage Foundation has discoverd that 38 percent of the members of Congress made the choice to put their children in private schools. Of course, Secretary Duncan has said he decided not to live in Washington, D.C. because he did not want his children to go to public schools there. And President Obama, who has no choice but to live in the White House, does not send his two daughters to D.C. public schools, either. They attend a private school, Sidwell Friends, along with two students who got there because of the voucher program.

This reckless dismantling of the D.C. voucher program does not bode well for arguments to come about standards in the effort to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. It does not speak well of the promise of President Obama to be the “Education President,’ who once seemed primed to stand up for all children who want to learn and especially minority children.

And its time for all of us to get outraged about this sin against our children.

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End Government Sponsored Indoctrination Centers and you'll begin to see, slowly, steps towards a serious approach to education again. Right now, too many entrenched interests, institutionalism, politicizing for votes for Democrats (let's be honest, it's not Reps they're voting for as a bloc) and to demonize the Republicans anytime they want to scare people about Republicans eating the public school educated youth or whatever it is they do.

Government hold over schools, housing (through various interventions) and medical care is ruinous and there are actually people who think that going whole hog is the way to go. nevermind that they're taking medical care away from people in Britain for 'budget' reasons or because they're too fat or too old. And don't even get started on the waits.

Not all public schools are bad, I went to one. But the environments that are allowed to thrive in public schools around the country are toxic to the healthy development of children and a REAL education.

John Taylor Gatto's work is instructive here.

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Seems to me voucher dollars should not be carved out of current education budgets, they should be in addition to. That would essentially take the teeth out of the Dems/union argument. Besides, it's not like we're getting bang for buck out of DC schools. Money isn't the problem there-they already spend a ton. The problem is the deadbeat parents.

Wow for once I agree with an MJ post.

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End Government Sponsored Indoctrination Centers and you'll begin to see, slowly, steps towards a serious approach to education again. Right now, too many entrenched interests, institutionalism, politicizing for votes for Democrats (let's be honest, it's not Reps they're voting for as a bloc) and to demonize the Republicans anytime they want to scare people about Republicans eating the public school educated youth or whatever it is they do.

Government hold over schools, housing (through various interventions) and medical care is ruinous and there are actually people who think that going whole hog is the way to go. nevermind that they're taking medical care away from people in Britain for 'budget' reasons or because they're too fat or too old. And don't even get started on the waits.

Not all public schools are bad, I went to one. But the environments that are allowed to thrive in public schools around the country are toxic to the healthy development of children and a REAL education.

John Taylor Gatto's work is instructive here.

Ghost!! Missed ya lately bud!

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I went to public schools all my life. The reason I did well? Because my parents DEMANDED I do well. If a child is not self-motivated to succeed and his parents do not force him to suceed, no amount of money will help him.

I personally think curriculums are a joke. Every kid should know Alegebra 1 by 6th grade as an example.

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I missed the part of the constitution that allows the Federal Government to create programs like this.

Article 1, Section 8

...To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings.

This only applies to Washington, D.C., which is where the uproar is over these vouchers.

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Democrats obviously hate black children.

Just the really smart ones that get that way without their system.

The worst minorities for the political parties, are those that don't need the government to succeed and if they become a poster boy or girl showing that fact its bad for the power hungry in both parties and special interests.

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