Education

The Death of the D.C. Voucher Program

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Over at The Daily Caller, Bob Ewing offers a detailed look at how Washington, D.C.'s successful Opportunity Scholarship Program was killed by the teachers unions and their allies in Congress:

OSP targeted about 2,000 of the poorest kids in DC who were stuck in some of the worst schools in the country. It gave their parents a $7,500 scholarship to attend a private school of their choice.

The response was immediate. Four applications were filled out for every slot available. Parents loved the program, considering it a lifeline for their children, a way to escape failing schools and enter safe, functional schools….

So when it came time for Congress to reauthorize OSP, it would seem to be a no-brainer: Expand the program.

Instead, they killed it.

Buried deep inside a 1000+ page, half-trillion-dollar spending bill was a provision that prohibited any new students from entering the program. To top it off, the 216 new students added to OSP for the new academic year were pulled out by Education Secretary Arne Duncan just before the school year started.

Why did this happen? According to former DC Mayor Anthony Williams and former DC Councilman Kevin Chavous (both Democrats), the answer is politics at its worst.

Read the whole sad and infuriating story here. Katherine Mangu-Ward discusses education reform in Washington, D.C. here and here. And for a look at one family's reaction to the program's cancellation, check out Reason.tv's "Barack Obama and the DC School Voucher Program":

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  1. 2,000 of the poorest kids in DC

    I’ll assume they weren’t Muslims with science envy.

    1. +100!!! (and right out the box, too! Plaudits, sir, plaudits…)

    2. 2000 kids who now have some amount of family members that aren’t too happy with Obama. Not that it matters in DC, but I’m sure a few will make good shout outs in speeches.

  2. I’m willing to bet 90+% of the parents fucked over by the Democratic President, Democratic Congress, and Democratic DC administration will continue to vote Democrat for the rest of their lives.

    1. It’s because of Democrats that they still have the option to send their children to public schools where everyone is equal. There’s no contradiction there.

        1. Don’t be his porn.

          1. It has to be better than being your porn, which is undoubtedly some sort of bestiality rape.

            1. The beasts are definitely doing the raping. 😉

            2. Does sex with a Sasquatch count as bestiality? They are hominids. You can’t really argue that the hairiness makes a difference, since that would mean that most marriages in France are bestial in nature.

      1. It’s because of Democrats that they still have the option to send their children to public schools where everyone is equally fucked over.

        Fixed.

      2. Hobie Hanson, you’re weird.

      3. Don’t be so hard on him. He spoke volumes of truth inadvertantly. “Equality of Outcome”tm is a key board in their plank.

        1. wow, let’s try key plank in their platform. FUCKING USE PREVIEW, MAN!

    2. I hope you’re wrong. I think this should be one of the top planks in the Republican platform. Blacks are starting to realize the Democrats aren’t doing them any favors regarding education.

    3. This morning’s Washington Journal had a charter school advocate on and you’d be surprised at the number of black callers bitching about the current system.

    4. “…will continue to vote Democrat for the rest of their lives.”

      Don’t you see… that’s the entire point.

      If these kids were allowed to go to better schools, they might run the risk of growing up to be successful, productive members of society… and then there’s no way they’d vote Democrat.

      The DNC could lose an entire generation of voters if they allow this to voucher scheme to spread. Best to eliminate it before it takes root.

      They’ve spent decades cultivating a perpetual underclass… can’t risk losing them now.

      1. That sums it up pretty well.

        1. Then again, it’s probably idiotic to assume that politicians are capable of thinking more than a couple of years ahead, let alone a generation.

          Thinking more near term… say November time-frame, it’s safe to assume there are many more swing votes to be had in the teachers’ union, than among the 2000 families who would benefit from the OSP (who will still vote Democrat regardless).

          1. Nothing the Democrats have done in the last year indicates they are thinking about anything but the long term.

            1. Nothing the Democrats have done in the last year indicates they are thinking about anything but the long term.

            2. So very true, and so very disheartening.

            3. It’s sometimes difficult to tell which is the stupid party and which is the evil party.

      2. If these kids were allowed to go to better schools, they might run the risk of growing up to be successful, productive members of society… and then there’s no way they’d vote Democrat.

        Why do Democrats need to people to not be successful and productive?

        1. “Why do Democrats need to people to not be successful and productive?”

          Why do tobacco companies need people to develop nicotine addictions?

    5. They vote that way because the Democrats are devoted to forcing “diversity” on every institution in America. Aren’t qualified for a job? Don’t have good credit for a loan? Can’t get good grades in school? It doesn’t matter to Dems because diversity is a magical quality that will solve any problem. Conservatives always complain about welfare, but the real economic damage is wrought by the cult of diversity.

      1. cult of diversity

        And egalitarianism.

    6. Just because he beats me doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me.

    7. And 90% of pro-lifers will continue to vote for the GOP despite the fact they keep nominating pro-Roe justices to SCOTUS.

    8. I’m betting on 100% Democratic; or, more likely, 110%.

  3. Where is the free market problem here?

    No one is stopping anyone from sending their kid to the Madrasah of their choice.

    Just don’t ask me to pay for it.

    1. I’m paying to send other people’s kids to the government’s schools. Which seem to be as parochial as the religious schools. Just different faith-based systems.

      1. Well, send your little fuckers to the Madrasah of your choice.

        Just don’t ask me to foot your bill.

        1. Re: Shrike,

          Just don’t ask me to foot your bill.

          I’m with you – Don’t ask me to foot the bill for any sort of public education. Just don’t.

          1. You’ve entirely changed the subject where we can agree.

            But if education is a public priority – then standards are.

            Modern Biology must be in the curriculum.

            No Creationism, Alchemy, or Astrology horseshit.

            1. I don’t want that stuff on the menu, either, of course, but the problem is that the government shouldn’t be dictating what we teach our kids. Or, for that matter, running schools.

              Even from a gotta-make-sure-we’re-all-educated perspective, I’d prefer that government fund education through something like vouchers than run the awful public school system.

            2. Fine, shrike. Can we stop teaching them Keynesian economics, while we’re at it?

              1. and stop the sex education, drug education, and environmentalist indoctrination?

                1. No! Those are natural forces that mean something!

                  Sex, drugs, and the environment? I can’t think of anything more important!

                  When the Bushpigs invaded Iraq we subsidized Mahdrasahs where children learn the Koran 8 hours a day at the cost of $1 trillion!

                  We are a secular country as ordained by the Constitution. We must let our children know that.

                  1. It cost a trillion dollars to teach kids the Koran?

                    1. @ TLG

                      1 trillion to teach the Koran = Result of Collective Bargaining.

            3. Re: Shrike,

              You’ve entirely changed the subject where we can agree.

              Which means you’re not serious about where you want the money taken from you by force spent.

              But if education is a public priority – then standards are.

              What’s a “public priority”? Only individuals have priorities, and mine is not paying for anybody’s education.

    2. Re: Shrike,

      Just don’t ask me to pay for it.

      I thought you loved paying taxes to pay for kids’ education. Or is it that you love others pay instead of you? I may have them confused.

      1. It gave their parents a $7,500 scholarship to attend a private school of their choice.

        Not my obligation.

        I am (somewhat) surprised libertarians support this kind of shakedown.

        1. Jesus Christ, fuck you dude. You’ve missed the entire point. There is no evidence that the voucher program was hurting anybody, and the parents could pull their kids out at any time and put them back into the public school if they wanted to. It really seems like you people just don’t want people to even have the choice of enrolling their children in the school that they want them to attend. Regardless of where the children end up, they are going to have certain beliefs forced upon them, so why not let the parents decide what their children will be forced to learn.

          1. No! Parents are too stupid to know what is “hurting their children” via religious indoctrination.

            Children should be free from religious indoctrination while vulnerable.

            I still believe in the First Amendment!

            1. Re: Shrike,

              No! Parents are too stupid to know what is “hurting their children” via religious indoctrination.

              But you’re smarter, right?

            2. But government indoctrination is fine with you, isn’t it, shrike?

              1. Millions for Gaia, sir, but not one cent for Ctulhu!

            3. No! Parents are too stupid to know what is “hurting their children” via religious indoctrination.

              Children should be free from religious indoctrination while vulnerable.

              Why?

              How will parents pass their religious values to their children without indoctrination?

            4. I still believe in the First Amendment!

              Except for that pesky “free exercise” part. And you don’t really believe in “freedom of speech” either. You’re just another person who believes in forcing everyone to do things your way.

            5. It spits in the face of the first amendment to require that parents send their kids to indoctrination class. WOuldn’t the first amendment protect the ability of children to get the education of their parent’s choice?

        2. The rest of us have to pay thousands more to send kids to a school that their parents didn’t even choose. Fucker.

        3. Well, how about, the voucher is $17,000 less than the per-student cost to run the DC school district?

          1. $10K less. The vouchers are 60% cheaper than public schools, not free.

        4. I am (somewhat) surprised libertarians support this kind of shakedown.

          Many libertarians would prefer not to pay for private education at all. But libertarians prefer neutrality rather than the government taking sides if it’s going to happen.

          Arnold Kling put a test of libertarianism as being: “When you see other people doing something that really offends you, are you willing to see the state allow that behavior to continue?”

          You, of course, don’t agree with that.

          1. posted this further down:

            Unlike Chony, it’s insane. Everyone who responds gains 22 points on my idiot scale.

    3. You’re paying for it ANYWAY, jackhole. Why not at least take this moment to advocate a government program – which through actually allowing people a choice of their own informed making, and – believe me – people get informed when it comes to their children’s education – which might actually WORK?

      1. I refuse to PAY for a private Madrasah!

        I deplore religion as a subservient indoctrination program for children!

        1. I’m with you – I refuse to pay for anybody’s education. I believe it is immoral to take someone’s property to give it to others.

          Is that what you’re talking about, or is your sense of outrage more selective (i.e. hypocritical)?

          1. If you pay taxes you are paying for public education no matter where you live in America. DC has accomplished the amazing by spending more per student on public education than any other municipality in America and getting worse results for it. That money came from the taxes of people who live in DC, and probably from some federal reciepts. So, you are going to pay for public education whether you like it or not. But if that is the case, why not employ vouchers that give the end-users of the product – ie. education – a say in how the money is spent? Or should we just keep punting that to the ever-wise, benevolent, and omniscient bureaucrats?

            1. “DC has accomplished the amazing expected by spending more per student on public education than any other municipality in America and getting worse results for it.”

              FTFY

  4. Why did this happen? According to former DC Mayor Anthony Williams and former DC Councilman Kevin Chavous (both Democrats), the answer is politics at its worst.

    Obamanable: We love Unions.

  5. A vote in the Senate to save OSP was defeated 58-39.

    Republican obstruction.

    1. Byrd just told me he votes no.

  6. Szasz Alert! Starlet forced into psychiatric “treatment”!
    Lindsay Lohan jailed and forced into rehab by judge.

  7. I might point out that, although all DC mayors by definition suck, Anthony Williams was the least suckiest of all the recent ones.

  8. Buried deep inside a 1000+ page, half-trillion-dollar spending bill was a provision that prohibited any new students from entering the program. To top it off, the 216 new students added to OSP for the new academic year were pulled out by Education Secretary Arne Duncan just before the school year started.

    What a coincidence, the stimulus bill also funded a grant made by the Democrats on my board of county freeholders to my Democrat run town council to buy property for a park. At several council meetings, the council members explained that they needed to buy the property, because otherwise a developer would eventually build low income homes there and the children from those homes would end up in our schools.

  9. We don’t want those little colored children off the plantation just yet. Back to the public school where you belong.

    Robert Byrd

    1. At least in the public school they can learn to sing songs.

    2. And I don’t want those poor kids going to school with Sasha and Malia either… after all, they are to live out the dreams of their father and those little ghetto kids might give them the wrong ideas…

      1. You hit on the real truth. These rich liberals want to keep their private schools to themselves and the riffraff away from their children.

        1. kinda proves that nigra is a false designation. who’d a figured.

  10. If “the perfect” is a thriving education market absent government involvement, then “the good” surely cannot be sending government money into private schools, further entrenching the notion of government as the source of education funding, and further corrupting what benefits there are to attending a private institution.

    Tax credits? Sure! Set up a charity to help poor families send their children to private schools? You bet! But the voucher system goes the wrong direction. Government subsidization of private education should be as abhorred by libertarians as government subsidization of the auto industry.

    1. See, it’s not like you can actually further entrench the idea of the government as the source of education funding at this point. Shifting the funding is a matter of tactics.

      First obliterate the institutionalized public schools (by starving them to death with voucher money going elsewhere) and accordingly get rid of their politically powerful public teachers’ unions.

      Then you can go for elimination of the subsidies to the politically much-weaker private schools.

  11. Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledged that the OSP students are “safe and learning and doing well.” He argued, “We can’t be satisfied with saving 1 or 2 percent of children and letting 98 or 99 percent down.”

    They are, however, satisfied with saving no kids at all, but placating the teachers’ unions.

  12. Slate published a pretty good article on the manufactured outrage of blogs like Jezebel:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2259434/?from=rss

    1. On and on it goes, as commenters click again and again on the same post to follow the conversation, generating the traffic that enables the site to sell ad space. Right now, the ad alongside those headlines is for Cheetos.

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      1. Yeah that was genius, especially considering it was an anti-thin/attractive people post. 🙂

        1. The best part is that these women are being manipulated in exactly the way they say they despise by people who profess to be the gold standard in feminism. It’s so delicious.

          1. Yeah, it’s so good it needs a repost in the morning links thread tomorrow.

            Emily Gould has written some good stuff. She reminds me a bit of Susannah Breslin.

            1. From the article, about the posts:

              But they promote the exact opposite of progressive thought and rational discourse

              “Progressive thought” … that’s funny! My thoughts have progress! That makes them more good!

    2. In fairness to Jezebel, KMW’s manufactured outrage is even more obvious.

    3. How is that different from any advertising based media outlet?

      If they’re halfway competent, the good folks at Reason must know which HnR topics will generate lots of comments, debate, page views, and ad revenue. (In fact, I should hope they’ve figured out the formula by now).

      Having a roster of persistent antagonists has to help as well. Honestly, if the math worked out, I’d put ChicagoTom, Tony, and Chad on the payroll.

      The single most important thing I learned about media… Most people assume that content is the product and the audience is the customer. In reality, the audience is the product and advertisers are the customer.

  13. Couldn’t we bribe out the opposition, and reduce the dead weight loss? Why doesn’t a politician introduce a bill that would institute a program the organized teachers would otherwise fight, but include as a rider a payment in good old cash money to everyone who lives and has taught in the jurisdiction for the previous 5 years?

  14. Someone really thought the Democrats would let this program continue?

    Really?

  15. Libertarian policies apparently can’t win even when it’s for the children.

  16. shrike’s religo phobia is entertaining to watch.

    Government has forced crappy, non functional low flush toilets on us.

    Government controls how much water our showers can produce, and government is banning incandescent bulbs.

    Government is finishing up with cigarettes and is busy trying to regulate out of existence any food that does not meet government mandated healthful, low salt gruel standards.

    Government has given us the war on drugs a thoroughly bi partisan catastrophe.

    Government shoves underprivileged kids who desperately need an alternative under the bus and back into the disastrous government run schools.

    Meanwhile the US religious institutions power is pretty much limited to calling people they don’t like bad names.

    Guess what group shrike freaks out over.

    1. Unlike Chony, it’s insane. Everyone who responds gains 22 points on my idiot scale.

  17. Shrike give me a call when the religious groups can force themselves into the shower with you.

    Peter Gleick: Water Scofflaws ? Go Soak your Heads (Under a Low-flow Showerhead)

    After years of inaction, blatant and willful violations of federal law, and lack of enforcement by previous administrations, the U.S. Department of Energy has just announced that they intend to pursue enforcement actions against the manufacturers of water-using appliances that violate national water and energy savings laws that have been on the books for nearly 20 years.

    Water Number: $3,475,120. This is the total of the proposed civil penalties the Department of Energy will impose on these four manufacturers if they fail to certify that their products meet the conservation standards of the law.

    If you don’t like your low-flow showerhead because of the feel, get a good one and maintain it ? the expense is small.

  18. Another problem is plumbers and architects who are starting to install shower “systems” with multiple showerheads. Each single showerhead might meet the federal standard, but this loophole is certainly a violation of the spirit of the law.

    So, “the law is the law,” as the author says earlier, but apparently so is whatever the author thinks the law should have been.

    1. …only the first paragraph is a quote…

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