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Ex-Council Member to Lead Protest of D.C. School Voucher Cuts

School choice advocates, already trying to pressure the White House to reverse an end to school vouchers in the District, are planning to block the entrance of the U.S. Department of Education headquarters starting at 9:30 a.m. this morning.

Former Council member Kevin P. Chavous is leading the effort to bring attention to 216 low-income students who could not enter their private and parochial schools this week because President Barack Obama's education spending plan cut funds to the controversial program.

Earlier this year, Obama compromised by extending the program to allow 1,716 students currently enrolled in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program to graduate. But the compromise nixed scholarships to new students, affecting 216 poised to enter this fall.

The protest, which a news release said would include Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), comes on the same day of Obama's controversial speech to high school students. "President Obama plans to speak to America's schoolchildren through a televised address on Tuesday afternoon," Chavous said in the release. "Now, he owes it to the families of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program recipients -- as well as to the 216 children who saw their scholarships revoked by the Education Department -- to answer important questions about the futures of these children and many others."

The issue of school vouchers frequently has separated Democrats who represent urban communities from the party. The scholarship program was created by Republicans. Parents have seen the program as alternative to failing public schools.

Virginia Walden Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, said in the release that "the way this Administration has treated these children is deplorable."

-- Nikita Stewart

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  September 8, 2009; 8:16 AM ET
Categories:  Nikita Stewart  
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Comments

216 to be privileged at risk to the education of how many? Vouchers have been used, they've been presented, and spent. Let's move on. It's not going to be renewed, and it shouldn't. The District is FINALLY doing something themselves about their schools. Go to school, get over it, and get an education. Parents, it's up to you, not the President. Get off your butts, and don't wait for a handout from the President. Put your own leg up!

Posted by: wleldred | September 8, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Wleldred I agree totally, you want to complain - complain at the city level about schools. I'm a hardworking mom of a child in DCPS and because I have a job (exceeding income requirements) my child doesn't qualify for this program so frankly I think it should be cut and that money be used for public schools instead. All of our children deserve a great education. Not only those who choose not to work and have everything handed to them. Set a better example for your kids! I simply do not sympathize!

Posted by: boo2 | September 8, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I don't know. I feel a little like boo2. If my child can qualify for a free private school education, then I'm for it. But if I don't qualify (and I don't currently qualify for any other form of welfare), then I agree that it isn't fair. I'm not rich by any standard, but I want my child to get a quality education as well. And a DC social worker told me that other parents get vouchers by cutting back their hours right before qualifying so that their paychecks come within income guidelines. Not fair. I'm salaried. I can't do that. Besides, I actually have to be at work...to actually work. These programs need to be re-designed to be fair for all parents and children.

Posted by: forgetthis | September 8, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh, when I mentioned vouchers, I meant daycare vouchers, not the vouchers for private school education. Just a little clarification.

Posted by: forgetthis | September 8, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Forgetthis - That has always been the most frustrating thing to me. If you dont work or make very little money you get free housing (Section 8), Free money (public assistance), Free food (Food Stamps) and a free private school education. That's not to take away from those who really need help but when you're in such a position to need so much help - you can help youself by 1 stop having more kids!!!

Posted by: boo2 | September 8, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Ex city councilman and current councilman shouldn't you focus on making the public schools acceptable to ALL students?

Posted by: rlj1 | September 8, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh Lord, is he back?

Posted by: candycane1 | September 8, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Pro-voucher D.C. Democrats Lodge Protest Same Day Obama Addresses American Students
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/ken-shepherd/2009/09/08/pro-voucher-d-c-democrats-lodge-protest-same-day-obama-addresses-ameri

Posted by: StewartIII | September 8, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

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