March 28, 2011

Last year, President Obama was asked if his daughters, who attend an elite private school, would have received a similar education at a District of Columbia public school. His answer? “I’ll be blunt with you: The answer is no, right now.”

Washington parent Gamel New recently told the Washington Post “Everybody has their choice of where to send their kids. That’s [Obama’s] choice. If I could afford it, I probably would, too.”

Unfortunately, everyone does not have that choice. But with the establishment of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, some parents in the nation’s capital finally have the option to send their children to better schools.

Heritage Foundation education expert Lindsey Burke explains why conservatives should take a stand on this issue,

Many low-income parents who were previously unable to access a safe and effective education for their children found themselves in a position to go directly to a private school they felt would best meet the needs of their children. Parents were now empowered to do what so many families who can afford it so often do: They were able to go from school to school, inspecting the premises, inquiring about the school’s academic record and interviewing principals and teachers.

Not only are parents empowered, but the voucher program makes sense from a financial point of view. The scholarships are worth $7,500 each, compared to the nearly $19,000 the city spends per student.

Yet despite these successes, liberal legislators have denied funding for the program in next year’s budget. Pressure from teachers unions prompted them to phase the program out, despite its proven track record.

While 40 percent of Congressmen choose to send their children to private school, that choice would be denied to students in one of the most dangerous and underperforming school districts in the United States.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R–OH) has introduced new legislation, known as the SOAR Act, that would not only reauthorize the scholarship program but also expand it to give more children the opportunity for school choice. During the State of the Union address, Boehner invited Heritage education experts Jennifer Marshall and Lindsey Burke to join scholarship recipients in the Speaker’s Box.

The House is set to vote on the SOAR Act this week.

Comments (17)

Roger Welsh - March 29, 2011

If conservatives are ever going to win the vote of the
poor in major cities , who traditionally vote for Dems,
we are going to have to go there and confront the myth
that the Dems are for the poor. The democratic party
has for years bragged of fighting to lower college
admission standards for african americans yet
steadfastly refuse to allow any type of voucher
system. Given a fair chance in grades 1-12 those
children wouldn’t need their “help”
Democrats also support abortion as a “right of the
woman”. My question is what percentage of
abortions are precious little black children in
comparison to their total population in the U.S.?
Roger

James Lloyd Whitney - March 29, 2011

I strongly favor school choice, but also strongly believe that it is a local issue. The federal government should stay out of it, especially in a climate of desperate need to reduce federal spending. The objective of SOAR, though worthy, looks like a bailout for local government mismanagement..

Walter Cable - March 29, 2011

Why don’t we fix the “dangerous, under-performing” schools so that ALL children get a proper education?
Handing out vouchers is great for those that get them, but what about those who don’t?

William Person - March 29, 2011

One big reason school choice is important is because it is the only way to break the stranglehold of the teacher’s union. No ohter American institution (accept maybe government) has turned out to be more disfunctional than the NEA and most other teachers unions. Understand I am talking about the unions. There are more than many fine terachers who want to inspire their students. The unions stifle change, growth, and creativity because everything turns into a money issue. The Union’s only interest, and they will tell you this most directly in negotiations, is for “wellfare” of their members. They are not invovled in schools systems to protect students or their education!!!

John Hazeltine - March 29, 2011

Strong competition in K-12 education will increase productive jobs, improve the national standard of
living, and ultimately protect national security.

I wish public education could be fixed, unfortunately, decades of tinkering around edges show it can’t be done.

Bold bold steps such as these should be debated:

At federal level: 1. establish 10 year goal of high school education performance in math and science to be within top 5% internationally; 2. adopt 5 year goal to dissolve K-12 public schools; 3. abolish Department of Education and funding to states over 5 years.

At state level: 1. adopt national goals stated above; 2. abolish teacher tenure and collective bargaining for public education employees at all levels of government; 3. minimize education department and education code; 4. accumulate all sources of funding withing state to be used for state-issued vouchers redeemable at any accredited school including traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools; 5. set voucher amounts at 65-75% of base year per pupil funding at public schools and
apply savings to replace lost federal subsidies and to facilitate job creation; 6. abolish teacher certification requirements.

At county level: 1. dissolve county boards of education and offices; their functions are no longer needed with the other reforms.

At school district level: 1. adopt national goals stated above; 2. enforce accreditation requirements including core curriculum for all schools; 3. further facilitate home schooling; 4. using the count of public schools in first year of cuts as the baseline year, dissolve lowest performing 1/5 of them each year; 5. eliminate other
district functions.

Belle Tilley - March 29, 2011

We are supposedly free Americans and the freedom of choice is one of our basic rights. No one especially the
government should be able to dictate to us. If we choose to eat that’s our business, if we choose to starve that is also our business, if we choose to send our children to
better schools because of the governments incapabilities
to have those better schools that’s also our business.
Freedom is choice not having to follow blindly the rules set down to us by others. Society has to have laws in order to survive and common sense says that laws that protect the citizens are good. Laws that force us to do what is not our choice isn’t good and should be repealed.

How does the government know what’s best for me? They don’t even know me.

Belle Tilley

Toc - March 29, 2011

One word: COMPETITION!

G Stanley Doore - March 30, 2011

Inexpensive interactive tablet PC learning should be substituted for textbooks and current methods of education practice since it allows students to learn any time in any place on any path at any pace. This approach to K-12 education should take precedence to other changes since it applies directly to each student at less cost while raising the education level of students.

Mark Pulver - March 30, 2011

When my children were young they attended a Christian school in Buffalo, NY. It was 1/2 white and 1/2 black, an absolutely beautiful Christian community. They went broke! We need to offer an alternative to the current secular-socialist monopoly. It is our only hope to improve public schools….competition!

Jeff Daly - March 30, 2011

Vote yes on the SOAR act. Giving the parents a choice of where to send thier kids for the best education will improve the level of education in all the schools. Competition will always make everyone better. If there is no choice there is no incentive to do better.

James V. Burnette - March 30, 2011

Step #1, Eliminate the “National Education Association”.
Turn all services offered by this organization back to the States. Shift all taxes associated with the support of this organization back to the States.
Step #2, Eliminate tenure and develop teacher performance standards.
Step #3, Reduce union organizations to cover only the school district they work in and write better protective contracts for both employee and employer. A union in one district will have no relationship with any other union in any other district.
Step #4, Our tax system for supporting our schools has never been fair. Many parents now pay tuition to private schools to get their kids a better education and to protect them from the criminal activities that seem to get worse every year in many of our public schools. To help balance our schools financially lets require that people pay tuition at all schools. Those that can’t pay or pay the full tuition will be subsidized by State funding and or vouchers. If people have to pay for their kids education you will be surprised at parent participation and parent demands for our schools to improve their standards. This is not meant to take the place of government funding but to suppliment it. Instead of always going over budget and just asking the government for more money schools will have to figure out ways of offering a better education and streamlining their own operation and yes meet a budget. Unions will not be able to ask for higher wages and benefits across the board whether some teachers need it or not and whether the school district can afford it or not. It always ends with the people paying higher and higher taxes to support government run and controlled organizations that waste and abuse the system. This way parents can better control what our childern are being taught.

Robert Spellmann - March 30, 2011

Parents have the fundamental responsibility for the upbringing and education of their children. Any governmental restriction on parent’s choice of education of their children takes that responsibility away from the parents and accords it to government. School choice, specifically vouchers, allows many parents who cannot home school to choose education according to their beliefs, values, and their goals for their children. Controlling school attendance for financial gain by government schools (paid by seat attendance) is especially abhorrent in a system that produces such poorly prepared students. There is little room for optimism with government schools. If we must have government funded schools then let them compete, not dictate from Washington.

Mark Zeppuhar - March 30, 2011

If you don’t have a choice then the schools will have no incentive to get better. Why would anyone want to send their children to substandard schools if they had a choice.

Robert & Carla Trutt - March 30, 2011

One big reason school choice is important is because it is the only way to break the stranglehold of the teacher’s union. No ohter American institution (accept maybe government) has turned out to be more disfunctional than the NEA and most other teachers unions. Understand I am talking about the unions. There are more than many fine teachers who want to inspire their students. The unions stifle change, growth, and creativity because everything turns into a money issue. The Union’s only interest, and they will tell you this most directly in negotiations, is for “wellfare” of their members. They are not invovled in schools systems to protect students or their education!!!

Leon Lundquist - March 30, 2011

At this stage School Choice is too little too late. We are Sovereign Citizens! We should be educated to the level of Kings! School Choice has been demanded for fifty years and nothing has been done. I argue Progressive Socialists need Public Schools to enforce their Indoctrination on American kids so they are dumb enough to buy Pie In The Sky. Now I suppose the ‘choice’ in curriculum will a nice balance between Socialism and Communism determined by RINOs and DINOs.

It must be unlawful to teach American Values and Principles by now. Maybe they will let us have School Choice because it is too late.

John - March 31, 2011

The real issue is: Why are we sending our money to Washington, giving them the authority to determine where our kids go to school, what they are taught and how much we spend? Education is a local issue. A “one size fits all” program dictated by the federal government is the problem.

Beverly Jones - April 2, 2011

The Educational System is BROKEN lets stop the lies and for once tell the truth. Give ALL children a fair chance to excel. Wasting money year after year isn’t the answer. Educators,dems, repub stop being selfish,greedy for power over people. Its a joke fighting for lower college admissior How about where it all starts1-12 grades. Take responsiblite for students learning if not find out how they can excell. Teach them how to be independent not depending on GOVERNMENT. That may ruin a few plan’s for som,e but it would be best for the children.

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