Putting Parents Last in Education

Dan Lips /

Congressional leaders recently proposed an unprecedented $142 billion spending increase for education—the largest in history—in the so-called “economic stimulus” package. That’s nearly double the annual budget of the Department of Education.

But liberals on Capitol Hill included language in the legislation to make sure that not a dollar of that funding is used on school choice policies that give parents the power to pick the best school for their children. (Prohibiting school choice is just one of the reasons why the “economic stimulus” is a bad policy.)

The Washington Post is now reporting that Congressional leaders are taking their first steps to kill the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. This $13 million program is currently helping more than 1,700 low-income children attend private schools in the District. But the Post reports: “Unusually restrictive language being drafted for the omnibus budget bill would forbid any new funding unless Congress reauthorizes the program and the District passes legislation in agreement.”

This news comes weeks after a new report was released showing that the Opportunity Scholarship program has succeeded in boosting parental involvement and increasing participating families’ feelings of student safety. The Post reports that the survey found that: “over time… their satisfaction has deepened to include an appreciation for small class sizes, rich curricula and positive change in their sons and daughters. Above all, what parents most value is the freedom to choose where their children go to school.”

Unfortunately, Congress is proving that what parents’ most value often doesn’t matter in the education debate.

Research Assistant Lindsey Burke contributed to this post.