- Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Parents rally for vouchers
Question of the Day
Put kids first. No to vouchers.
The debate over federally funded school vouchers in the District took to the streets Thursday, as advocates for school choice protested a decision to discontinue the program.
At the Maryland Avenue headquarters of the U.S. Department of Education, about 100 D.C. Opportunity Scholarship advocates urged Education Secretary Arne Duncan, President Obama and Congress to extend a lifeline for the program spawned in the city in 2004. They contend the program provides hope and a better quality of education for poor children who can’t afford to attend better schools.
The immediate goal of the demonstration was to restore vouchers to 216 students who were awarded them in the spring, only to see the offer rescinded by federal education officials.
Without a school voucher program, Patricia Williams fears her 12-year-old son Fransoir will let his grades slip again.
“This program means everything,” Mrs. Williams said. “He was in public school and it didn’t work for him. He experienced a lot of difficulty. Not to speak badly about public school, but he suffered. Public schools are not meant for every child. People have different needs.”
Clad in matching yellow T-shirts, the pro-voucher group assembled in support of school choice while counterprotester Robert Vinson Brannum, a community activist, strapped two loudspeakers to his car and shouted into a microphone at the demonstrators. The shouting match continued for nearly 45 minutes, with the volume of Mr. Brannum’s speakers drowning out the chants from the other side.
“The program itself is not designed to help D.C. public schools, which is what the argument is for them. It’s to support school choice,” argued Mr. Brannum, a former teacher whose son has attended private schools.
“The voucher program does not do that,” he said. “It’s simply a way to get public dollars for a limited number of students. That’s discriminatory. It seems to me if the private schools are receiving public funding, then they need to open their doors and let everyone in.”
For Sheila Jackson, the program is more about being able to decide what’s best for her 13-year-old daughter Shawnee, who attends Preparatory School of D.C.
“Public schools was not what she needed,” Ms. Jackson said. “She had the choice to go to the school that would challenge her, and that was my choice.”
Mr. Brannum disagreed.
“Not every choice can come on a public dollar,” he said. “I should have to pay for my child to go to private school. If it’s acceptable for those who oppose abortion not to have their dollars used to pay for abortions, I should have that same choice.”
A poll released in July from Braun Research on behalf of several pro-voucher groups found that close to 75 percent of D.C. residents favored the voucher program. The vouchers were embraced by 74 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents.
Sixty-eight percent of residents surveyed said they were opposed to lawmakers putting an end to the voucher measure, which offers up to $7,500 per student to attend private schools of their parents’ choice. More than 3,000 students have received the scholarships thus far.
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- EDITORIAL: For too many gays, 'tolerance' is a one-way street
- PRUDEN: Cooling the manufactured impeachment panic
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- Feds accept boredom, lack of work as excuses for surfing porn on clock
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world