Thursday, April 12, 2012

School Choice Parent, Activist Calls for Saving D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program

The following post is from Virginia Walden Ford, the former executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice. Last summer, Virginia returned to her hometown of Arkansas following the successful reauthorization of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

For two years, I fought alongside parents, friends, and advocates to save the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.  Supporters from all across the country stood with us to support the children of the District of Columbia.  When I left Washington, D.C. last year, I felt that the program—thanks to heroes like Speaker John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman—would serve the District’s children for years to come. 

I was heartbroken to learn that President Obama had—once again—targeted to end this wonderful program.  This is so very wrong. 

The children benefiting from the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program live in neighborhoods just a few miles from the White House.   And once again, they are at risk of losing the opportunity to continue their journey of receiving a quality education in the schools their parents have chosen.

We have witnessed, through their participation in the scholarship program, children thriving academically in the school of their parents’ choice; and we have seen their parents becoming engaged and involved in their education. We have seen children, who had never thought about going to college, enrolling and excelling in some of the finest schools in the nation.  

The families I grew to love in my time in Washington have been excited and inspired by the children’s success in their schools.  It was incredibly uplifting to entire communities whose children had been previously enrolled in schools that were not serving their needs.

Reading the recent editorial in The Washington Post, I was horrified and saddened that we must again look to Speaker Boehner, to “SAVE” this program. 

If we, as a nation, truly care about what happens to our children, we must find a way to work together to ensure the continuation of programs—like the D.C.  Opportunity Schoalrship Program— that serve their needs. 

I once again ask President Obama to think about our children.  I urge him to put special interests aside and to continue funding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.   Currently participating children must be able to stay in their schools until graduation and additional children must have the chance to attain a great education through this program.

Mr. President, it’s the right thing to do.

—Virginia Walden Ford

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