Democrats in Congress likely to shut down D.C. school voucher program


Milton Friedman, who developed the idea for school vouchers and who would have turned 95 on Tuesday, would be disappointed with the following news story from the Washington Times, which reports that Congressional Democrats intend to take aim at the highly successful school voucher program in the District of Columbia. More money needs to go to DC schools, not vouchers, they say, despite the fact that DC spends more per pupil than any state in the nation and probably has the worst schools in America.
Future of D.C. school vouchers worries parents
July 29, 2007
By Kristen Chick – Jordan White was a troublemaker in middle school — at least, according to some of her teachers.They called her mother, Wendy Cunningham, to say that Jordan had bad classroom behavior. She didn’t pay attention during class because she was always doodling, they said. The quiet, straight-A student couldn’t put down her pencil.
Takoma Education Center, the D.C. public school she attended, didn’t offer art classes, so Jordan, 15, just kept drawing in the margins.
Then she received a D.C. Opportunity Scholarship, a federally funded school voucher for D.C. families living near the poverty level that faces an uncertain future in the Democrat-controlled Congress.
Jordan began attending Georgetown Day School, and instead of being scolded for sketching in class, she was encouraged to enroll in art courses.
Suddenly, her mother said, she discovered a talent.
“I didn’t know my daughter was an artist until she went to Georgetown Day School,” said Miss Cunningham, 42. “She wouldn’t have gotten those needs met in public school. When I think about that, it brings tears to my eyes.”
Jordan is one of 1,800 students who used a D.C. Opportunity Scholarship last year to leave the District’s struggling school system for private academies they could not otherwise afford. The program has received applications from 7,158 students since its inception.
The $7,500 vouchers are awarded by lottery, with preference given to students attending public schools designated as “in need of improvement” under the federal No Child Left Behind education initiative.
But now many families are beginning to worry that the change of power in Congress means the end of the scholarship program, and some parents say they’re willing to fight to keep that from happening.

Read the full article here.