More than a year after President Obama signed into law legislation renewing and expanding the highly-successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), his administration continues to block full implementation of the law and deny new students access to the program.
Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to press him on fully implementing the law, known as the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act. This follows the letter they sent to President Obama in March pressing him and the administration to expedite implementation of the program. The president inexplicably chose to zero out funding for the program in his budget proposal, contradicting the very law he signed. Based on the president’s budget, the Department of Education has said it intends to cap enrollment in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which also contradicts the law. The Speaker and Senator Lieberman made clear that the SOAR Act does not impose a cap on enrollment and a robust evaluation is mandated by the law. They also told Duncan they would push to ensure full funding for the three-sector approach to education reform reauthorized in the law that provides equal funding for school improvement for D.C. public schools, public charter schools, and the scholarship program.
What are the consequences if the Obama Administration continues to defy the law? Hundreds of underprivileged students in the District of Columbia will be denied access to a lasting, quality education through a program that has an excellent track record of success. For eight years the scholarship program has empowered low-income parents to choose the best learning environment for their children, giving them an opportunity to receive a quality education while the District of Columbia takes steps to reform its public schools.
The Obama Administration says it supports education reform … when will it begin to support real education reform for low-income families and students in the District of Columbia?
NOTE: For a high-resolution photo of the meeting, visit Speaker Boehner’s Flickr page.