Blocking Children’s Path to a Better Future

  • Congress Blocks Opportunity: Congress recently approved action that threatens to immediately phase out the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP), a federal initiative that currently helps 1,715 disadvantaged children attend private schools in the nation’s capital.
  • Safe and Effective Learning Environments: Studies of scholarship families show higher parent satisfaction with their children’s school safety and learning environment. Test scores showed that students offered scholarships were performing approximately 3.1 months ahead in reading of students not offered vouchers and an equivalent of 3.7 months of total additional learning.
  • Traded in for Low Performance: Eliminating DCOSP would send these children back into a public school system that ranks 51st nationally in student achievement, where barely half of all students graduate high school.
  • President Obama Says: “[Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan will only use one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works” (March 2009).

A Less Costly Opportunity

  • Less Money, More Learning: DCOSP costs less per student than traditional federal programs and provides a better learning experience. The $13 million cost of DCOSP is a drop in the bucket compared to the $68 billon Department of Education budget.
  • Education for All: The stimulus bill alone added over $98 billion to the Department of Education. In fact, the $7,500 scholarships cost less than half of the $15,315 D.C. taxpayers spent per pupil in the 2004–2005 school year.
  • Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Says: “I don’t think it makes sense to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning” (March 2009).

Choice for the Fortunate Few

  • Congress Has a Choice: A 2009 Heritage Foundation survey found that 44% of Senators and 36% of Representatives in the 111th Congress have sent their children to private schools. General public enrollment in private school is approximately 11 percent. Yet many Members who practice school choice oppose policies that would allow low-income families to do the same.
  • Private School–Educated Congress: Approximately 20% of Members in the 111th Congress attended private high school themselves, nearly twice the rate of the American public. About 35% of Congressional Black Caucus Members have sent a child to private school. Nationally, around 6% of black students attend private school.
  • The Chief Architect: Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL), who crafted the language that threatens to end DCOSP, sends his children to private school and attended private school himself.
  • The President Is a School Choice Success Story: President Barack Obama, as a child, received a scholarship to attend a prestigious private school in Hawaii.
  • The President Exercises Parental School Choice: Obama chose to send his daughters to a leading D.C. private school rather than D.C. public schools. Why not allow others to make the same smart choice for their children?
  • President Obama Says: “And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that [my daughters] have” (January 2009).