- Big milestone for Britain’s little Prince George who turns 1
- Murphy: Israel must be wary of Hamas using civilian deaths for recruitment
- Royce: Putin recruiting ‘every skinhead and malcontent around Russia’
- Nancy Pelosi is adamant: Congress worked together when Bush was president
- ‘Slender Man’ stabbing victim receives Purple Heart from anonymous veteran
- Kentucky city called socialist for buying gas station, undercutting competitor fuel prices
- Israel hits five mosques, sports complex in overnight Gaza strikes
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters’ questions on book tour
- EPA tweet baffles: ‘I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ iPhone game
- Australian P.M. Abbott: MH17 evidence tampered with on ‘industrial scale’
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of the demonstration was to restore vouchers to 216 students who were awarded them in the spring, only to see the offer rescinded by federal education officials.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
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters' questions on book tour
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq