As predicted, the number of pupils participating in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is going up, by a lot. Serving Our Children, the group selected in 2015 to administer the private school voucher plan, is wasting no time taking advantage of the strong support of school choice of the new occupant of the White House and the recently confirmed woman heading the U.S. Department of Education.
SOC has determined that in the past the Department of Education has been misinterpreting the legislation contained in the SOAR Act in two critically important ways. First, brothers and sisters of those already admitted into the program should have been provided with a sibling preference for admissions. My understanding is that this preference is extended not only to blood relatives of those using a voucher but to anyone living in the same household as a OSP student.
In addition, and extremely importantly, kids who are already attending a private school that meet the residency and income requirements are also eligible to receive an OSP award. Finally, there is one more crucial change in management. The scholarships will now be granted on a rolling basis. Gone will be the day of the grand announcement of who got in and who did not make the cut.
These modifications have already had a drastic impact. On Friday, February 24, 756 parents who completed the application requirements were notified that their scholars had received an OSP scholarship for the 2017 to 2018 school year.
But Serving Our Children is not done here. The organization is now contacting participating private schools to request that they increase the number of OSP kids being admitted. Then there is the legislative side. Look for Congress to now quickly reauthorize the SOAR bill for another five years. There is also some talk of making this legislation permanent.
The bottom line is that many more low-income parents are about to be provided with choice about where their children can get a quality education.