If President Obama Had His Way, The DC Opportunity Scholarship Fund Would Not Exist

When Barack Obama became President, one of the first things he did before even doing anything in his official capacity was to get the ball rolling in sending his two girls, Sasha and Malia to Sidwell Friends, an exclusive private school in Bethesda, Maryland.

The annual tuition for the school is about $34,000 per year. As such, the President pays nearly $70,000 per year for his daughters to attend what he and First Lady Michelle Obama thought was the best school for them.

They decided what was best and made the best choice available to them. I can only wonder why the President continues, year after year to try and take that choice away from parents in Washington DC.

The Washington DC Opportunity Scholarship Program was started in in 2004 when President Bush signed the legislation targeting 2000 Washington DC students to give them funding to offset the cost of private schools. In March 2009, a study was conducted to see the impact of the program after three years.

It was a success. 

From the Institute of Education Sciences:

After 3 years, there was a statistically significant positive impact on reading test scores, but not math test scores. Overall, those offered a scholarship were performing at statistically higher levels in reading—equivalent to 3.1 months of additional learning—but at similar levels in math compared to students not offered a scholarship (table 3). Analysis in prior years indicated no significant impacts overall on either reading or math achievement.
The OSP had a positive impact overall on parents’ reports of school satisfaction and safety (figures 3 and 4), but not on students’ reports (figures 3 and 4). Parents were more satisfied with their child’s school (as measured by the percentage giving the school a grade of A or B) and viewed their child’s school as safer and more orderly if the child was offered a scholarship. Students had a different view of their schools than did their parents. Reports of safety and school climate were comparable for students in the treatment and control groups. Overall, student satisfaction was unaffected by the Program.

You can read the rest of the summation here and the full report is located here.

So with the results that it had, why on earth would the President submit a budget that year, zeroing out funding for the program? Rich Cromwell sums up all the bogus reasons school choice opponents put forward and boils it down to the people wanting to protect their interests while ignoring those of parents who want a better education for their kids and ignoring the interests of the kids as well.

Thankfully, Republicans took over the House of Representatives during the 2010 elections and John Boehner helped to restore funding to the program. But that didn’t stop President Obama from trying defund the program again:

The Obama administration is once again standing with education special interest groups and against low-income children in Washington, D.C. His 2013 budget request zeros out funding for the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was revived last year thanks to the hard work of Speaker John Boehner and the thousands of D.C. families who received scholarships to attend a private school of choice.

Democrats have an odd mindset when it comes to funding programs. When something doesn’t work, Democrats will proclaim the program itself doesn’t have enough money. I imagine that leads them to believe a successful program such as the DC Opportunity Scholarship should receive less funding (or in Obama’s case, no funding) because of that success?

It makes zero sense.

Unless it is taken into consideration just how beholden Barack Obama and Democrats are to teachers unions. Nobody opposes school choice more than the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. One look at this chart shows where the money goes (just from the NEA alone):



All parents in Washington DC want is the same choice that Barack Obama has with his kids. He shouldn’t try to take that choice away from them.