- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New poll reflects D.C. voucher support

A new poll shows D.C. residents want school choice and reform, and that they overwhelmingly support the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Seventy-four percent of respondents to a poll commissioned by a coalition of groups said they favor or strongly favor the scholarship program, which aids poor families. That is the same number who favor charter schools. Moreover, support for the scholarships is higher - greater than 80 percent - for parents with school-age children.

“This poll just confirms what weve seen and heard from people across the city,” former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, chairman and president of D.C. Children First, said yesterday. “Local politicians, Congress and the Obama administration need to take heed - this program is something our residents want.”

The poll also queried respondents on ending the scholarship program, which allows parents to select a private school of their own choosing. Sixty-eight percent ppposed proposals to end the program, and 79 percent of parents opposed to ending the program.

The poll also showed that 61 percent of respondents said that the program should provide “as many scholarships as possible in order to meet demand.”

“While Congress and the Obama administration are allowing fewer scholarships, this poll shows D.C. families want even more,” said former D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous. “They need to wake up. This program needs to be continued and expanded, not shut down.”

In addition to D.C. Children Frist, the poll results were released by the Alliance for School Choice, Black Alliance for Educational Options, Center for Education Reform, D.C. School Reform Now, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Friends of Choice in Urban Schools , Greater Washington Urban League and the Heritage Foundation.

More than 1,700 children received scholarships tduring the 2008-09 school year. But more than 200 who had anticipated in the program have lost out because the federal government is blocking new participants. The decision was made after the out-of-boundary process and after the enrollment deadline for a majority of charter schools, officials with Children First said in its press release.

Allowing the students who lost to enroll is an urgent first step with the new school just weeks away, supporters said.

“Politicians oppose education reform and the Opportunity Scholarship Program at their own peril in Washington D.C.,” said Mr. Chavous. “Parents are going to remember who stood with them on this issue, and who took away more educational opportunities for their children.”

No more Metro deaths,’ group urges Obama

The Pray at the Pump movement, the organization that began holding vigils last year at gas stations as prices skyrocketed, is urging President Obama and Congress to bail out Metro. The urgency is June 22 fatal Red Line crash, said supporters, who protested recently outside the U.S. Capitol.

Nine people died in the crash between two rail cars on the system’s oldest line. The accident remains under investigation by federal and local authorities.

In the posting “No More Metro Deaths - Obama Fund Metro Now” on PetitionSpot.com, Rocky Twyman, a Christian activist who also urges more blacks to become organ donors, said in a letter addressed to the president that Metro needs to be safe for D.C. passengers and visitors from all over the world. The letter also said if the federal government can bail out major corporations, it can bail out the capital’s transit system.

Addressed “Dear President Obama” and signed by Mr. Twyman, founder of No More Metro Deaths Crusade, the letter says in part:

“In view of the horrific accident on Metro that killed nine human beings, we the undersigned call upon you to use your clout to provide adequate funding for the nation’s capital Metro system. It represents the only transportation that poor people in the area have to get to their jobs that provide support for their struggling families. It ensures that tourists from all over our country and the world can enjoy america’s historic museums and sites.

“Our prayers go out to the families of the nine people that were killed. However, now is the time for you and Metro General Manager [John B.] Catoe to act. No more budget cuts to Metro. Many of these daily riders voted for you. Now, they need to be protected.

“We kicked off this campaign during the Fourth of July weekend because Metro needs liberation from its funding woes so that it can operate successfully. We bailed out banks with greedy executives. The time has come to bail out Metro that provides a real service to the public.

“We pray that god will touch your heart to help make metro safer. …

“President Obama, funding this Metro system is the right thing to do. No more Metro deaths.

“If something isn’t done immediately, your administration might end up with the blood of innocent victims on its hands. God forbid. Act now and make Metro safe.”

City asks workers to pledge green on electricity

D.C. government employees are being asked to pledge to go green.

The D.C. Office of Property Management and Department of the Environment began implementing an energy conservation campaign last week that urged employees to reduce their energy consumption in city facilities.

Employees in 22 D.C. government facilities are being asked to sign pledges and personally reduce electrical consumption. Members of the Green Summer Job Corps will offer tips to workers.

“The District already constructs and renovates our facilities to be as energy-efficient as possible,” said the director of property management, Robin-Eve Jasper. “We now look forward to working with employees to reduce our energy consumption even further.”

Officials hope to have the workplace program fully implemented by Aug. 20.

“More than a third of this governments energy use comes from what we plug into our wall sockets,” said George S. Hawkins, director of the Department of the Environment. “Our goal is to reduce the amount of power used by each employee.”

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