Stimulus Bill Bullies Poor DC Schoolkids

Published May 31, 2016

Congressional Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for trying to strip school choice from 1,700 kids in the District of Columbia by quietly slipping a provision into the omnibus spending bill at the eleventh hour.

The federal government wants to spend $410 billion more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money—which, by the way, most of us don’t have to give—and they think sending 1,700 kids back to the dismal war zones otherwise known as D.C.’s failing public schools is a good way of saving a minuscule $14 million.

That isn’t just bad policy—it’s the worst kind of school bullying imaginable.

As a candidate, President Barack Obama promised to eliminate earmarks for special-interest groups in the economic stimulus package he proposed. But just a cursory glance at the package Congress passed reveals $10 million that could easily be saved. And a detailed reading of the entire bill reveals 8,570 earmarks totaling more than $7.7 billion.

Here are just a few examples of the dozens of special-interest earmarks in this package:

* $1.762 million for a honeybee lab project;

* $4.4 million to establish a Center for Grape Genetics and a Center for Advanced Viticulture and Tree Crop Research;

* $2 million to promote astronomy in Hawaii;

* $1.5 million to study seals in Alaska; and, ironically,

* $400,000 to combat “bullying.”

The way to stimulate the economy is to let taxpayers keep more of their own money to spend as they see fit, instead of as bureaucrats dictate. If the president wants to cut the national deficit in half in the foreseeable future, he should not add so much to it.

And if he wants to be seen as anything other than your run-of-the-mill, D.C. establishment Democrat—the kind who exercises school choice for his own children but refuses that opportunity to everyone below a certain income level—he cannot sign the stimulus bill in its current form.

Bullying is what happens when powerful people pick on weaker people to maintain their control, and that’s exactly what Congressional Democrats in Congress are doing by trying to kill the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. Their efforts have nothing to do with stimulating the economy or educating kids, and everything to do with keeping the deep pockets at the teacher unions happy so they keep helping career congressmen get reelected.

The stimulus bill contains no “hope” for the affected children in taking away the one chance for a decent life these 1,700 DC schoolchildren are getting now, and there’s no “change” in lawmakers lying down like doormats for fat-cat union lobbyists. The stimulus bill is just more of the same pandering that’s been going on for years. It’s school bullying at its worst, and it’s time for it to stop.

Karla Dial ([email protected]) is managing editor of School Reform News.