DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING – Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) opening statement paraphrased: We tried to make this a balanced hearing, and we invited six represenatitves if the opposition, but no one agreed to testify against it. He noted that they would hear from the evaluator who conducted the department of educations impact study.

He is explaining the purpose of the program and the history. Senator Lieberman notes that the federal evaluation found that the program produced statistically significant improvement in reading and parental satisfaction.

Lieberman talks about the Obama administrations compromise: If the program doesn’t work, it should be shut down. If it works, it should continue and more kids should participate. Supporting what works should be our nonpartisan standard for funding education programs. And by this standard, this program should continue.

Lieberman points out that of the eleven other federal programs who have been evaluated by similar rigorous controlled experiment, only 3 produced statistically significant gains like the DCOSP.

He closes by saying that an equal access to a quality education should be a right for all children.

Sen. Susan Collins (D-ME): she points out that this program is serving at risk kids in one of the most troubled (but highly funded) school systems in the country. She says that the focus should be on the children and families incolved in the program. She points to the programs popularity: the high demand for scholarships. Collins notes that the scholarship amount is about half of the cost of educating a student in public school in DC.

Collins reiterates that the committee invited opponents including National Education Association who declined.

Panel beginning: parent, scholarship student, and former scholarship student to testify.

ED NOTE: Wacth the hearing LIVE here.