Media Advisory: Heartland Institute Comments on DC School Choice Vote in Congress

March 30, 2011
Tammy Nash

A bill that would revive a school voucher program in the District of Columbia will likely come to a vote today in the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program would provide $7,500 to qualifying students to put towards private-school tuition. It has the strong support of Speaker of the House John Boehner and was passed by a House panel earlier this month. Its chances in the Senate, where the Democratic leadership opposes the program, are less clear.

The following statements from education policy experts at The Heartland Institute may be used for attribution. For additional comments, please use the contact information below:

“Not that we get involved in the legislative strategy of the House of Representatives, but any re-authorization of ESEA might be predicated upon not only the reauthorization of the Opportunity Scholarship Act, but its dramatic expansion in DC.

“Throw in the ability of states to exempt themselves from all federal mandates if they exceed federal standards, and you might have a bill worthy of passage.”

Bruno Behrend
Director, Center for School Reform
The Heartland Institute
bbehrend@heartland.org
312/377-4000

“Practically everything opponents of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program are saying about it is wrong. But the most egregious and offensive argument against it comes from the White House itself, which issued a strongly worded ‘Statement of Administration Policy’ this week against the program. The Obama administration says, in no uncertain terms, if scholarships cannot save all students, then scholarships should save none.

“It’s a position rich with irony. President and Mrs. Obama send their two daughters to the finest private school in the District of Columbia – which, by the way, several DCOSP students also attend. The president has said in the past he would be hard-pressed to find a good public school in the district to send his children. And many within the president’s party have done everything in their power to ensure programs such as the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program serve a few thousand children at most.”

Ben Boychuk
Managing Editor, School Reform News
Research Fellow for Education Policy
The Heartland Institute
bboychuk@heartland.org
818/389-2931

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization based in Chicago. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.heartland.org or call 312/377-4000.