Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation informs us that January 23rd marked the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush signing into law D.C.'s Opportunity Scholarship Program. That is an amazing accomplishment considering the sustained attempts by teachers' unions, the Obama Administration, and our local newspaper to shutdown the private school voucher plan.
I remember as if was yesterday the small celebration held at the Institute for Justice headquarters on the night the legislation became law. It was extremely cold outside as it is now. My friend Kaleem Caire joined us representing Fight for Children. Its founder and chairman Joseph E. Robert, Jr. had devised the three sector approach which provided funding for the vouchers as well as traditional and charter schools as a mechanism for getting the legislation through Congress. In this way, and in an instant, he eliminated the tired liberal argument that vouchers divert money from the regular public schools. We can also never forget the ferocious efforts of Virginia Walden Ford to provide a quality education for her children and for numerous other kids in the nation's capital who lacked the chance to attend a quality school.
Ms. Burke points out that 98 percent of the over 1,600 voucher recipients this year would have attended an academically under-performing neighborhood school if it wasn't for the scholarships. The education analyst also reminds us that 91 percent of OSP students have a four year high school graduation rate compared to charter school students at 79 percent and DCPS at 58 percent for this statistic.
I especially like this comment by Ms. Ford about the program:
“In each of the fights to bring school choice to the states and the District of Columbia,” she notes, “there have been strong parent voices. We have seen many parents, for the first time, become partners of change, excited about how their children are learning and what lies ahead."
Onward we go.