Excerpted below is a USDoE response to my letter to President Obama supporting full funding the DC School Choice Incentive Program. The response comes from Anna Hinton, PhD, US Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement. Dr. Hinton is the director of the office for parental options and information. Her letter is dated November 16, 2010.
“Thank you for your letter to President Barack Obama expressing your support for school vouchers…”
“We are grateful to hear from supporters of the DC School Choice Incentive Program and appreciate your thoughts on its expansion and reauthorization. We appreciate your service as an Assembly Member and the research you have invested into the DC School Choice Incentive Program. As you know, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) as amended, is based on strong accountability for results, more freedom for states and communities, and more choices for parents. The Department is currently administering the DC School Choice Incentive Program and provoking scholarships to low-income students living in Washington, DC for the remainder of their K12 schooling. The website for this program at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/dcchoice/index.html.
“Please know that this Administration is committed to ensuring that high quality education is provided to all students in all education sectors (public schools, public charter schools, and nonpublic schools). The U.S. Department of Education is committed to continuing these efforts so that parents and students have access to high-quality school choice programs.”
Nice letter but Dr. Hinton does not address my concern about continuation of the DC School Choice as authorized by then Mayor Adrian Fenty and the DC City Council. Continuation of the program for presently enrolled students means that it will expire once the last student graduates. Nor does she address support for parental choice programs including vouchers “so that parents and students have access to high-quality school choice programs.” Stay tuned.
Original post: October 19, 2010
In an earlier post, I praised President Obama’s call for a longer school year, education reform, greater parental involvement, and the firing of incompetent teachers. But it was his response to Matt Lauer’s question about whether his daughters could get the same quality education at a District of Columbia school as at their private school that disappointed me. Mr. Obama rightly acknowledged that DC public schools are struggling to provide a high quality educational experience for all students. But the President’s acknowledgement is hollow given his lack of direct support for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP).
Since its inception as the first federally funded, school voucher program in the United States, the DC OSP has helped more than 3,300 children from families with an average annual income of $23,000. Several studies found that parents and students were very satisfied with the program; parents were more involved in their children’s education; communication between parents and their child improved; children have an improved attitude toward learning; an increased self-esteem and enthusiasm towards school for children; and students achieved higher reading test scores. These findings prove that the OSP has been successful in increasing the academic progress of the enrolled students and is leading the race to the top for those students and their families
President Obama’s inaction prevents over 200 DC students from completing their education at a parochial or private school of their choice. Those OSP students are academically, at least, 18 months ahead of their public school peers (just as Malia and Sasha are). I urge Mr. Obama to changes his mind and support the DC school voucher program by getting Congress to reauthorize funding.