Monday, October 8, 2012

D.C. Mayor Supports Scholarship Program for College Students; When Will He Support D.C. Vouchers?

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, along with the D.C. Council, created a $1.59 million scholarship program to help low-income District residents attend colleges in Washington, D.C.  The program, called the Mayor’s Scholars Fund, provides $10,000 for students attending private universities, $7,000 for students attending the University of the District of Columbia, and $3,000 for students attending community colleges.

The 185 students who received news of their scholarships over the summer were surely elated to get significant financial assistance for attending the city’s universities—both public and private.  But others, including the Mark Lerner writing in The Washington Times, are remarking on the contradiction of the Mayor’s support for the Mayor’s Scholars Fund, but strong opposition to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Earlier this year, President Obama zeroed out funding forthe D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in his 2013 budget and Gray also made clear that parental choice is no longer a priority of his administration.  In his proposal, he breached a promise made to the charter school community by failing to close the funding disparity between charter schools and traditional D.C. public schools, as required by law.

The Administration—and Mayor Gray both opposes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and follows the Administration’s lead on the program—argue that funding should only go to public schools, despite the fact that as many as 17,000 students are on waiting lists to attend charter schools and the voucher program continues to be oversubscribed.  The question is, why is it ok for college students to receive government money to attend private universities, but children in poor-performing K-12 schools can’t receive a scholarship to attend private schools?

As Mark Lerner writes, you’ll have to ask Mayor Gray.  To us, it doesn’t make any sense.

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

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