Members of Congress Call on Ed. Secretary to Support Vouchers

By US Daily Review Staff.

Leaders in the U.S. House and Senate yesterday called on President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to commit to the effective implementation of the D.C. voucher program, urging the Administration to honor a 2011 budget agreement that reauthorized the highly-effective program for five years.

The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—praised House Speaker John Boehner, Senator Joe Lieberman, and other members of Congress for their continued support for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) and the city’s low-income families, and called on the Department of Education to work with the local administrators of the program to meet the increasing demand for expanded educational options from parents all across the District.

“We’re pleased that members of Congress are holding the president and his Administration accountable for making sure that all eligible families are able to take advantage of the opportunities that this scholarship program provides,” said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior adviser to the American Federation for Children and a former D.C. City Councilman. “Parents desperately want school choice, and it’s vital that we remove any bureaucratic blockades preventing them from realizing their dreams.”

In letters to Obama and Duncan, Boehner and Lieberman joined Reps. Darrell Issa, John Kline, and Hal Rogers in calling on the president to fully fund the OSP, following the president’s decision to zero out funding for the program in his FY13 budget released earlier this year.

The lawmakers also urged Duncan cease putting in place measures intended to limit the size and scope of the program, including a recent plan that essentially places a cap on OSP growth—despite clear language in last year’s reauthorization calling for all eligible students to be able to apply and enroll.

There are more than 1,600 students enrolled in the OSP this school year, an increase of almost 600 students over last year. Over 1,000 applications have already been submitted for the 2012-13 school year.

Students enrolled in the program boast improved reading scores and graduate at a rate of 91 percent—more than 21 percentage points higher than those who applied but were not awarded a scholarship.

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