Sunday, January 31, 2010


A damn sorry episode, indeed

It didn't get a lot of attention because the nation was wrapped up in the debate over ObamaCare, but in December Democrats in Congress voted to kill funding for the District of Columbia's Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides almost 2,000 disadvantaged students with $7,000 vouchers to attend private schools of their choosing.

The Opportunity program has been immensely popular with D.C. parents, with long waiting lists being the norm since it started. Furthermore, a federal study last year said the mostly black and Hispanic students in the program were making significant academic gains and were narrowing the achievement gap with white and Asian students. The program, however, was unpopular with the National Education Association, so the NEA directed its patrons in Congress voted to kill it ... which they shamefully did.

The biggest asshole in this shameful episode was Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). Durbin, who heads the Senate subcommittee that oversees funding for Opportunity Scholarships, said early last year that he'd support reauthorizing the Opportunity program's funding if the D.C Council signed off on it, which it did. Then Durbin said participating schools had to administer the same tests as D.C.'s public school students take. Private schools agreed to do just that. Then Durbin voted to pull funding. See what I mean about Durbin being an asshole?

The Opportunity Scholarship Program is now closed to new students; and when those students who now have scholarships graduate, the program will cease to exist all together. Here's the lesson that can be learned from all this:

When it comes down to protecting the interests of poor black and Hispanic students, or protecting the interests of the National Education Association, Democrats in Congress will make sure the NEA wins out every time.

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