The Washington Post’s Emma Brown revealed that the new group administering the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, Serving Our Children, announced last Friday that it expects the private school voucher plan available to low-income students to grow next school year by “hundreds of new students.” The timing of the news was perfect as it came on February 24th, which is the birthday of Joseph E. Robert, Jr., the man who when he was alive championed the OSP as a civil right and whose group, The Washington Scholarship Fund, successfully managed it for years.
Ms. Brown states that “Kevin Mills, manager of family and community affairs for Serving Our Children, said in a telephone interview that the organization is expecting to expand because of new federal resources. He declined to say how much additional money the organization is expecting to receive, saying that they won’t have a firm number for another week or two.”
An inside source tells me that the resources to which Mr. Mills is referring come from the rollover funds that are sitting unspent from eight years of the Obama Administration’s efforts to restrict the number of kids that could participate. Congress allocates $15 million a year for the vouchers in addition to equal amounts going to D.C.’s traditional schools and charters as part of the Three Sector Approach that Mr. Roberts utilized to get the original legislation passed and signed by President George W. Bush. Approximately 1,100 scholars are currently enrolled in the OSP, however with an estimated $20 million in surplus money obviously many more pupils could certainly be helped.
The time is finally right for such a move with Donald Trump in the White House and Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education. Also on the agenda is the five year re-authorization of the OSP, something Speaker Paul Ryan failed to do at the end of 2015.
School choice advocates such as myself are hoping that at long last the tide has finally turned regarding the continuation and expansion of this life preserver for families living in poverty.