- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Parents rally for vouchers
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of the demonstration was to restore vouchers to 216 students who were awarded them in the spring, only to see the offer rescinded by federal education officials.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.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- ICT trade mission to Azerbaijan successfully completed
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CHELLANEY: China's game of chicken
- Inside China: Ukraine gets nuke umbrella
- EDITORIAL: The Potemkin website
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow