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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Has President Obama lost his way on Education Reform

From the St. Petersburg Times

by Ron Matus

The Obama administration put out the following statement yesterday about a plan to re-establish a high-profile voucher program in Washington D.C. (Response from voucher supporters follows.)

While the Administration appreciates that H.R. 471 would provide Federal support for improving public schools in the District of Columbia (D.C.), including expanding and improving high-quality D.C. public charter schools, the Administration opposes the creation or expansion of private school voucher programs that are authorized by this bill. The Federal Government should focus its attention and available resources on improving the quality of public schools for all students. Private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement.

The Administration strongly opposes expanding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and opening it to new students. Rigorous evaluation over several years demonstrates that the D.C. program has not yielded improved student achievement by its scholarship recipients compared to other students in D.C. While the President's FY 2012 Budget requests funding to improve D.C. public schools and expand high-quality public charter schools, the Administration opposes targeting resources to help a small number of individuals attend private schools rather than creating access to great public schools for every child.

Here's the response from Kevin P. Chavous, Chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, and Julio Fuentes, President of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options:

President Barack Obama's opposition to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is hypocritical and it is wrong. If President Obama continues his fight against school choice and education reform, history will long remember him as someone who failed to stand up to richly funded special interest groups and, in the process, denied low-income and minority children access to better schools. As leaders in the African American and Hispanic communities, we call on the president to reverse his position—not as a matter of ideology, but as a matter of social justice.

President Obama attended private schools using scholarships. As a parent, President Obama exercises school choice for his own daughters. But when it comes to other children in Washington, D.C. — most of whom are African American and Hispanic—our president apparently does not believe these children deserve the same high-quality opportunities. As a candidate, Senator Obama promised to "fund what works in education, regardless of ideology." But as President, the same principle and the same sound logic seemingly doesn't apply.

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