WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today welcomed the support of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and a majority of the city council for legislation renewing the DC school choice program.
“We urge you to ensure that the SOAR Reauthorization Act becomes law before the end of this Congress,” the mayor and eight of the council’s 13 members write in a letter to congressional leaders.
Introduced last fall by former House Speaker John Boehner, the SOAR Act (H.R. 10) reauthorizes the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides low-income students—many of whom attend persistently underperforming schools—with the opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend a private school of their choice.
“When we give more families a choice, more students succeed,” Speaker Ryan said. “This initiative embodies the American Idea—the notion that the condition of your birth doesn’t determine the outcome of your life. The support of Mayor Bowser and most of the city council gives this legislation an important boost as we work to get it to the president’s desk.”
Opponents of the SOAR Act, which the House passed in October, have previously argued that the District “rejects” the Opportunity Scholarship Program. But in a letter last December to congressional leaders, Mayor Bowser wrote that the program “has helped tremendously to achieve many recent successes in the District’s education system.” Since its establishment in 2004, the program has helped more than 6,000 students, with graduation rates well above the city average.