Education Secretary Shovels Dirt on D.C. Vouchers' Grave

When congressional Democrats in February singled out Washington, D.C.'s school voucher program as just about the only federal initiative not worth funding as part of a $410 billion spendapalooza, some Democratic apologists were all, yeah that's bad, but technically they're continuing the program for one more school year, then requiring congressional reauthorization at that time, etc.

Well, so much for that line of defense. From a Washington Post editorial this weekend:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has decided not to admit any new students to the D.C. voucher program, which allows low-income children to attend private schools. The abrupt decision -- made a week after 200 families had been told that their children were being awarded scholarships for the coming fall -- comes despite a new study showing some initial good results for students in the program and before the Senate has had a chance to hold promised hearings. For all the talk about putting children first, it's clear that the special interests that have long opposed vouchers are getting their way.

Officials who manage the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program sent letters this week to parents notifying them that the scholarships of up to $7,500, were being rescinded because of the decision by the Education Department. Citing the political uncertainty surrounding vouchers, a spokesperson for Mr. Duncan told us that it is not in the best interest of students and their parents to enroll them in a program that may end a year from now. Congress conditioned funding beyond the 2009-10 school year on reauthorization by Congress and approval by the D.C. Council. By presuming the program dead -- and make no mistake, that's the insidious effect of his bar on new enrollment -- Mr. Duncan makes it even more difficult for the program to get the fair hearing it deserves.

The sheer gratuitousness of this move is just appalling. Yes, let's subject this one program to a kind of cost-benefit skepticism that nothing else in a half-trillion bill receives. Let's throw teachers unions a symbolic bone that, by the way, screws over poor minority kids in a school system that was finally gaining some traction. How hideous. As the Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham put it, "It's clear that, when given a choice, Democrats are more petrified of unions than they are interested in doing something that works for some of the most underserved kids in the District."

Read Michael W. Lynch's January 2000 Reason feature on the then-nascent voucher movement in D.C.

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  • JP||

    Disgusting sacks of crap.

  • ||

    We won.

  • Mad Max||

    'Citing the political uncertainty surrounding vouchers, a spokesperson for Mr. Duncan told us that it is not in the best interest of students and their parents to enroll them in a program that may end a year from now.'

    This is pretty much the opposite of customary bureaucratic behavior. Usually, government agencies try to spend as much money as they're allowed so as to set a benchmark for future spending increases.

    That way, if in some future year the program isn't funded as much as the agency wants, the press screams bloody murder about "funding cuts," and telegenic beneficiaries (especially children) are paraded in front of the cameras as evidence of the impact of those cruel cost-cutters in Congress.

    If the Education Dept. people don't want to follow this well-worn script in the case of vouchers, that shows that they simply don't like vouchers.

  • Shaw Neighborhood School Kid||

    Yo, fuck the Teachers Union!

  • ||

    Of course the teacher unions don't like vouchers. WalMart hates Target too.

    Somebody tell me again about the compassion for the poor that the Democratic party is alleged to stand for. I seem to keep forgetting that.

  • Chico Marx isn\'t really Itali||

    Somebody tell me again about the compassion for the poor that the Democratic party is alleged to stand for. I seem to keep forgetting that.

    I am shocked! Next thing you are going to tell me is that the Republican party doesn't really fight for smaller government.

  • ||

    Education Secretary Arne Duncan has decided not to admit any new students to the D.C. voucher program, which allows low-income children to attend private schools.

    So the Obama girls will have to go to a public school, now?

  • BakedPenguin||

    If they got a good education, they might stop being poor. And then who would the Democrats compassion all over?

  • ||

    a spokesperson for Mr. Duncan told us that it is not in the best interest of students and their parents to enroll them in a program that may end a year from now.

    "We shouldn't get their hopes up," she said.

  • ||

    The message is clear; if you want your kids to get a decent education, forget about living in Washington DC.

    -jcr

  • economist||

    jcr,
    Nonsense. Just make sure you're rich enough to send your kids to private school.

  • ||

    So, this is an example of the kind of "wasteful spending" that Obama plans to eliminate.

  • Xeones||

    Yo, fuck Arne Duncan.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Hmm, I get angrier every day.

  • economist||

    Art-P.O.G.,
    You should do what I do: take up drinking. There are not sdie effffects whastsorever.

  • DHS Goon||

    Hmm, I get angrier every day.



    Looks like we got a right-wing terraist here...

  • ||

    This is so blatant it's pathetic. It's so unlike the democrats to cut funding to anything non-military, yet they cut this. How do teachers' Union member sleep at night?

  • ||

    From the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Dept.

    Citing the political uncertainty surrounding vouchers, a spokesperson for Mr. Duncan told us that it is not in the best interest of students and their parents to enroll them in a program that may end a year from now.

    What do you want to bet that when the program comes up for renewal in a year, the lack of new enrollments is cited as a reason for ending it?

  • economist||

    "Hmm, I get angrier every day.
    Looks like we got a right-wing terraist here..."

    Yeah, cause Art-P.O.G. seems just the type for a white-power militia.

  • ||

    economist, My god in heaven, that was wicked funny.

  • ||

    Hey, Obamatrons, please defend this. After we stick our collective fist so far up your ass that we can tickle your molars, maybe we can get a beer.

  • T||

    After we stick our collective fist so far up your ass that we can tickle your molars

    Collectivism is bad, Epi. We'll each have to do it individually.

  • ||

    You know that I really meant serial assraping, T.

  • The Jew (but you can call me T||

    "How do teachers' Union member sleep at night?"

    After six hours hours of jerking off to kiddie porn every evening, they sleep like babies.

  • Sean Scallon||

    Good! Let's end state support for welfare programs which is what a voucher is whether you want to admit or not.

  • ||

    Good! Let's end state support for welfare programs which is what a voucher is whether you want to admit or not.

    If you also consider public schools a welfare program, that's consistent.

    If not, you're a fucking idiot.

  • JB||

    Democrats hate children. They are mostly like Obama's bitch wife and hate America too.

    They want equality and there is only one kind of equality: death.

    Screw Democrats and their death-cult.

  • Medic||

    Heaven forbid someone other then a rich snot get a good education.

    Fu*kn great.

    Well thats how you keep people in 'check' deny them education and healthcare.

    They'll be too dumb and sick to fight the system.

    Medic

  • Sean Scallon||

    So JD you're all in favor of vouchers for poor inner city kids to attend Choate or Groton right?

    For people who want to call themselves Randians, where did this concern about the inner city poor suddenly pop up? Are you fellows planning giving poor people vouchers so they can by cars to get to jobs in the suburbs? What about vouchers for new refrigerators in their housing projects or vouchers for new laptop computers? I hear Newt Gingrich wanted to spend money on that.

    The true idiots are people trying to promote radical eglatarian ideas with other people's tax money and pass them off as "libertarian". You might be better off trying to abolish the D.C public schools rather trying to pretend they can be run like a "business."

    Your anti-unionism does take you in some pretty strange directions.

  • economist||

    Sean Scallon,
    Geez, and everyone says libertarians are unrealistic. We know perfectly well that the state probably won't be out of education anytime soon, so we support the idea that involves the least state intrusion and which we think will bring the best results.

  • Mad Max||

    SS,

    The ideal reform would be *taxpayer choice* - that is, people could either pay taxes for the support of government schools, or else use an equivalent amount of money to support a child's private-school or homeschool education. It could be his own child or someone else's that he supports. Anyone who supports private or home education would be exempt from school taxes (so long as he spends as much as he would have spent in taxes).

    If this idea isn't politically feasible, then one could argue that vouchers are a second-best solution.

  • ||

    Let's end state support for welfare programs which is what a voucher is whether you want to admit or not.

    I'll be OK with that once compulsory schooling is repealed. I don't support the government making things mandatory and then not funding them.

  • Sean Scallon||

    "the idea that involves the least state intrusion"

    Really? You take so much as a dime of federal money and you're subject to every federal civil rights law, special education laws, handicapp laws and biligual education laws that have imposed on schools by the state and have been upheld in courts. Vouchers simply brings all the problems that and extra costs that have hurt public schools into the private realm.

    Vouchers are an intrusion of the state into private education with a welfare check by any other name.

  • ||

    This issue is not as clear cut as the biased excerpts above would lead an gullible mind to believe. Considering the minimal gains and the enormous cost of the voucher program it is no surprise that it was excised from the budget. Private schools in general are a poor idea due to the lack of oversight of their curriculum and funding them with public money is wrong. That money would be better spent making public schools better and ensuring that public schools have all the advantages of private schools.

    However your predictable outrage is understandable given the inflammatory rhetoric of the origional poster...

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