Monday, February 27, 2012

Hundreds of D.C. Parents Come Out to Year's Second Scholarship Sign-Up

Parents get help from volunteers while filling out their applications
for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.
More than 150 parents stood in line at the Fort Davis Recreation Center in Washington, D.C. on Saturday for the chance to send their children to the private school of their choice in the 2012-13 school year.  The long line was filled with parents applying for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program—a voucher program designed for students from low-income families to attend the school of their parents’ choice.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was reauthorized in 2011 thanks to the tireless efforts of House Speaker John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman.  The program grew by 60 percent in the 2011-12 school year thanks to reauthorization, which allowed new students to enroll for the first time since the program was limited to participating students only.

Scholarships awards are worth $8,000 for students in grades K-8 and $12,000 for students in grades 9-12, and families can choose from more than 50 private schools across the city.

So who can participate in the scholarship program?

Well, students must come from families that qualify for SNAP benefits and priority is given to students who attend schools in need of improvement, corrective action, or restricting.Children with a sibling participating in the program are also given preference, and students currently attending private school are also eligible to participate.

In the President’s budget released earlier this month, funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Programwas not included—an appalling blow from the Administration, which had agreed to reauthorize the program for five years in budget negotiations with Speaker Boehner in April 2011.

What we do this year is consistent with our budget proposals of the last three years—we support funding so the kids now in the program can stay in the program but, otherwise, winding it down,” a senior White House official said after the release of the budget.

Numerous school officials were on hand Saturday to give parents
information about what they could expect at their respective schools.
Maybe that official should have attended this weekend’s sign up event, where they would have seen parents patiently waiting in long lines just for the chance to receive a scholarship.

Some opponents might be against the program, but if Saturday’s event tells us anything, it’s that we need to expand this program.  Every parent that came out on Saturday deserves the chance to send their child to the school of their choice, and the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program gives them that chance.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

No comments:

Post a Comment