What should we do when a public school system is failing it’s children? The first answer that comes to mind is that we should reform that school system. But what if that reform has been resisted for years by complex political and philosophical forces? What if, for decades a public school system that everyone admits is one of the poorest performing in the nation has not improved but has gotten worse? What if its buildings are in disrepair and more importantly its performance indicators remain steadfastly dismal? What to do with a school system that fails our children and fails to reform?
Well the answer is to provide successful alternatives for children and their families. This has happened in the last number of years through a program called the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program is federally funded and provides children that qualify a voucher of up to $7,500 that they can use to enroll in a private school that will serve them well. Some of the families have chosen Catholic Schools, some have chosen other private schools. But the key point is that those families blessed to receive such assistance now have an alternative to failing public schools. There are many wonderful success stories that have emerged from the Opportunity Scholarship Program and I hope to share some of them with you in future posts.
But for now, I ask your prayers and attentiveness to the fact that Congress has refused to reauthorize this very effective program and wants to force many families back into a failing system that cannot serve their children effectively. The White House recently floated a “compromise” that would allow children in the system currently to see their days out to graduation but the fact is that President Obama wants the program to end too.
We have to pray and work to change minds and hearts on this matter. Too many children will suffer needlessly if Congress bows to political pressure from teachers unions and other interest groups. I repeat, whatever your political leanings, it is the children who lose in this political debate if vouchers are ended. Poorer families need quality educational alternatives if the cycles of poverty are to be broken for many of them. It is simply wrong to end a successful program when quality educational alternatives in the public sector are currently lacking. Consider well who we are punishing in this debate. It’s not conservatives, it’s not the Church, it’s not private schools, it’s the children.
Political action from across the political spectrum is beginning to rally around this issue. Today hearings were held in congress that you can see here: HEARINGS I will edit and provide highlights in the next few days. In that hearing there are motions to reverse the decision to cancel the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Last week a rally was held with thousands attending to voice their support for vouchers. Lend your voice. Get informed by visiting the website Opportunity Scholarship Website
Here is are video highlights from last week’s rally: