Frist and Hastert Urged to Support DC Scholarships

Published December 1, 2003

Managing Editor’s note: On October 21, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Speaker J. Dennis Hastert urging them to support funding for a District of Columbia scholarship program as part of the district’s omnibus appropriations bill. The text of that letter is reprinted here. Boldface text was emphasized in the original.

Dear Senate Majority Leader Frist and Speaker Hastert:

Now that the legislative session is drawing to a close, it appears that Congress will wrap up the final appropriations bills into an omnibus funding package. I urge you to support funding for a D.C. scholarship program as part of any omnibus appropriations bill that is passed by Congress.

Schoolchildren in the District of Columbia have been trapped in failing public schools for too long. Authorizing funding for a school choice program will provide low-income parents residing in the District of Columbia with the financial means needed to enroll their children in higher-performing schools in the District of Columbia. In addition, the funds these students receive can also be used to pay for transportation, fees, and tuition costs.

The positive effects of school choice on students and on public schools are apparent in programs around the country. As Harvard University economist Caroline M. Hoxby writes, “An evaluation of Milwaukee suggests that public schools have a strong, positive productivity response to competition from vouchers.” According to her study of the Milwaukee school choice program, those public schools facing the most competition saw math scores rise by 7 percentage points each year, far better than at schools facing less competition.

Local District of Columbia leaders including Mayor Anthony Williams, Board of Education President Peggy Cooper Cafritz, and City Council Education Committee Chair Kevin Chavous recognize the benefits of increased parental choice, and that is why they support school choice funding for the District of Columbia. They recognize that a solution to D.C.’s education crisis must include competition.

I urge you to include a D.C. scholarship program in the final omnibus appropriations bill.


Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform