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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Obama, Congress Throw DC Underprivileged Children Under the School Bus

It has been a fear of many poor children and their parents that live in Washington DC that a Democratic-led government would cut funding to a successful program that would give scholarships to children, so they can go to private schools, instead of the abysmal DC public schools. Unfortunately, their fears have recently been realized:

Black leaders say that President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Congress have put politics ahead of helping low-income children in the District of Columbia by refusing to support a program that allows 1,700 children to go to a private school, including the school Obama’s two daughters attend.
Congress did not reauthorize funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) in the 2010-11 federal budget, ending a program that has helped thousands of disadvantaged children attend some of the best schools in the nation’s capitol since its inception in 2004.
And while Obama backed Congress’ move to continue funding scholarships for children already in the program until they graduate from high school, no new children will receive the $7,500 annual tuition scholarship.

Juan Williams, a Democratic pundit from Fox News, took a huge exception to this turn of events:

“The cancellation of the program, in my view, has been an unprecedented move by the federal government, because this is a historic moment, historic government spending in our nation’s history – a time when the U.S. Treasury is giving hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street bailouts,” Juan Williams, political commentator, said at a press conference held last week at the National Press Club in Washington.
“Congress chose, in the midst of all this spending, to end a very small, $13 million dollar program that, according to the Department of Education (DOE), has increased and improved the reading scores of low-income children here in the District of Columbia,” he said.
“The move is a matter of politics, in my opinion, plain and simple,” Williams said. “Powerful special interest groups like the National Education Association are clearly committed to destroying and denying these programs as they benefit low-income families and denying them the same opportunities that powerful Washington politicians and privileged people take for granted – the power to choose a safe and effective school for their children.”
Williams, a Democrat and regular commentator for National Public Radio, said his own personal story – growing up in poverty with a single mom devoted to seeing that her children got an education – makes helping disadvantaged children a moral imperative. He also said Obama, who attended a private school on scholarships while growing up in Hawaii, should share his passion for school choice.

Arne Duncan, Obama's Secretary of Education, showed little reluctance to pulling the plug on the successful program, while giving a lame excuse:

As reported, when asked why the Obama administration did not support the reauthorization of OSP, Duncan said in a statement that school vouchers would not fix D.C.’s failing schools.
“I appreciate the desire of every family to have the best possible education for their child,” Duncan said. “I also understand that our role is to support children, parents and educators. That is why this Administration is devoting more resources and supports more ambitious reform of our public school systems than any administration in history.”

Let me translate more "resources" means more money. Just like the Democrats always do, they want to throw money at the broken system hoping that the money will magically cure all of the system's ills.

Instead they should change the system and give more money to the students so that they can attend the school's that are doing it better, until the public system improves.

Why won't they do it that way? Two words: teachers' union.

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