Congress Votes on Polarizing D.C. School Vouchers
(Washington Examiner) — The budget deal Congress will vote on this week includes a program to provide private-school vouchers to low-income D.C. students, despite protests from the D.C. mayor, members of Congress, and teachers union that the scholarship fund doesn’t improve test results. But as Congress gears up for a vote on the deal, which would provide $100 million over five years for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Fund, advocates of school choice argue that the program boosts graduation rates and student wellness — and that its detractors just want to keep their clout. The voucher program was the first federally funded K-12 scholarship program in the nation when it was created in 2004 to subsidize private schools in the District by up to $7,500 for a few thousand low-income D.C. children. However, Congress allowed the five-year program to expire in 2009 amid conflicting studies on whether the vouchers actually approved educational outcomes.