The editors of the Washington Post, as they have done since my fateful meeting with columnist Colbert King twenty-two years ago, come out strongly today in support of continuation of the Congressionally-approved Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides private school vouchers for low-income children to attend private schools in the nation’s capital. The opinion piece repeats many of the benefits of the plan:
“The cost of the program is modest and well-spent: $17.5 million per year. That is part of a federal funding deal that also directs money to the District’s traditional and charter public schools. Nearly 11,000 scholarships have been awarded since the program was founded in 2004, and at least 91 percent of the graduates are accepted to two- or four-year colleges or universities. That compares with 39 percent of D.C public high school students. Most of the recipients — 92 percent — are African American or Hispanic, and the average annual income for families participating in the program in the 2020-2021 school year was $23,668.”
The OSP has a long history of being backed by brave representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, who have withstood the diabolical efforts of unions to dismantle this life preserver for those living in poverty. These have included Representative Paul Ryan, Senator Dianne Feinstein, House Speaker John Boehner, Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Tim Scott, and Senator Ron Johnson, among others. But with Mr. Ryan, Mr. Boehner, and Mr. Lieberman no longer in office, will the others have the drive to overcome the efforts of the U.S. Department of Education, House of Representatives, and President to kill it once and for all?
I have my doubts. The country is facing so many difficulties right now that I don’t know that anyone will be able to focus on the educational needs of 1,800 students.
There is one central reason that Congress should keep the program in place. It is the right thing to do. But listening to the news these days I’m beginning to doubt that what should be done is a driving force behind anyone’s actions.