Even though the average cost per student in the DC public school system is close to $24,000 a year, the vouchers are limited to no more than $7500. The rest of the money goes back into the system to improve public education for those who don't receive vouchers. That voucher is enough to pay tuition at a charter school and when combined with private scholarships it helps a lot of the students go to a first class private school. DC school costs are partially underwritten by the federal government, so we all have a stake in this program.
There are grassroots movements in virtually every major urban area where parents and community leaders — mostly of African-American or Hispanic heritage — are working to bring a program like this to their communities. They want to have more of a say in how education dollars are spent and to let competition drive improvement in education for everyone. They believe that the person most qualified to choose the best sort of school for an individual child is that child's parent.
A Senate hearing on Wednesday concluded that despite the fact that the DC voucher system was written out of the recently passed budget, it was a proven success and ought to be continued. President Obama reassured the families of the 1700 students currently using vouchers that he would see that they were at least able to keep attending their current schools until they graduate. He said that he would put aside politics and support solutions. Yet the teachers unions and the powerful education lobby are campaigning hard against this voucher system because they are afraid that it will set a precedent and encourage other school districts to open up educational alternatives for their students.
The DC voucher system is a success which we cannot afford to abandon. If you pay taxes and care about the future of America's youth, contact your Congressman and Senators and encourage them to support continued funding for the Opportunity Scholarship Program.