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School Choice Advocates Step Up Campaign

School choice advocates are gearing up for a final push this week to try to get U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to reverse his decision to rescind scholarships for 216 low-income District students.

The advocates, led by D.C. Parents for School Choice and DC Children First, are planning radio, newspaper and Internet ads. The advocates, who have formed www.savethe216.com, are also holding a vigil at noon Thursday outside the U.S. Department of Education.

The campaign, billed as a major escalation of their efforts, is designed to get Duncan to reinstate the scholarships before the school year begins.

"Time is truly running out for Secretary Duncan to reverse his disastrous decision and to save these 216 children," said former Ward 7 D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous, a Democrat who is heading up efforts to save the students' scholarships. "Scholarship money is already available for the 216 students and there is no law or regulation preventing them from accessing these scholarships. Secretary Duncan needs to show the nation that this administration is serious about reforming education."

The dispute centers on the federally funded D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers of as much as $7,500 for low-income students to attend the school of their choice. But the program is threatened by the broader political debate on Capitol Hill about using public money to send children to private schools.

With the fate of the program unclear, Duncan decided in March not to admit new students, including the 216 who had been approved to enter it this fall.

"When I received that letter, it was like a slap in the face," LaTasha Bennett, a parent of one of the students who had their scholarship revoked, said in a statement announcing this week's campaign. "I sincerely hope that Secretary Duncan will restore the dreams and educational futures of my children this week."

By Tim Craig  |  August 17, 2009; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Comments

I wish this article had mentioned that the private schools are parochial schools - that is the government is being asked to pay for religious education.

Also, the article could have mentioned that an excellent research study showed no educational improvement among kids who used this program. DC parents have myriad charter schools to choose from if they don't want their neighborhood school.

The government never should have gotten into paying for religious education in the first place. If Arne Duncan backs down on this, I'll be very disappointed in him.

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"

I wish this article had mentioned that the private schools are parochial schools - that is the government is being asked to pay for religious education.

Also, the article could have mentioned that an excellent research study showed no educational improvement among kids who used this program. DC parents have myriad charter schools to choose from if they don't want their neighborhood school.

The government never should have gotten into paying for religious education in the first place. If Arne Duncan backs down on this, I'll be very disappointed in him."

Excellent comment. As usual, the best comments on the post's articles are often more insightful and well-informed than the articles themselves.

Was this article/blog post based entirely on a D.C. Parents for School Choice and DC Children First press release?

Hmm, interesting theory I have. Let's test it. Oh, ok. Yup, that's right. It was.

Here's the press release.

http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090817005600&newsLang=en

Nice reporting, post! LOL

Posted by: magnuson | August 17, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Magnuson - although it makes me sick to know that this passes for journalism.

Maybe if we commenters keep outing the reporters, they will stop copying and start investigating -- or maybe they'll close down the comments sections. or maybe start paying us for reporting factual information. Perhaps if the comments section "opened" with the article, reporters would know to stick with the facts, lest they be publicly outed.

Maybe just knowing that we have access to a lot of the same information that they do will stop this foolishness.

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree parochial education should not be subsidized by the government. If these parents do not want their children to attend D.C. Public Schools they have the choice of many charter schools in the city. I attended public schools up to the 4th grade, at which time my parents were fed up and decided to bite the bullet and send me to private school. THEY paid for it and made the sacrifice (Thank God) to make it happen. The government does not OWE you an expensive private education.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | August 17, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Weren't all voucher kids supposed to be tested with the DC CAS to see if they were doing better than their public school counterparts? I have never seen any reporting on the test scores of the voucher kids. What ever happened to real reporting? Thanks Magnuson for showing that the emperor Post has no clothes.

Posted by: citymom92 | August 18, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

efavorite and magnuson are incorrect. They must have used the same talking points. Please check your facts before posting.
(1) According to the US Dept of Ed's own research, it found that "after 3 years there was a statistically significant positive impact on reading test scores..." Yes, the DC Voucher program works.
Check it out: "Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program Impacts After Three Years. March 2009"
(2) Vouchers may be used either for private and/or parochial schools.
Setting the record straight.

Posted by: homanjilli | August 19, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

School choice is a civil right. There is no greater government sanctioned violation of civil rights in today's America than denial of parental choice in education.

Posted by: Israel1 | August 20, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Israel1 says "School choice is a civil right"

I am an advocate of school choice, but I believe you have to be very cautious about throwing around statements about what things are "rights".

Where in the Constitution (or the Declaration of Independence) does it say that government has to pay for your (or your kids') education, let alone that you have a "right" to choose the school?

Real "rights" like the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights to the extent that government can't arbitrarily take them away from you, not that government has to give you something that you want (but can't or don't feel like paying for) and make someone else pay for it. The former is "rights" (good). The latter is involuntary servitude of those forced to pay for your stuff (bad).

Posted by: davagain | August 21, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

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