I don't know how else to describe this. Someone please explain to me how these people keep on getting voted into power in Washington.
It is a beautiful thing, and all too rare, to find an education program that works for at-risk students, for those with low incomes, across all racial groups. That is what Washington, D.C. found in the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, which gives scholarships to thousands of mostly low-income and minority students, who have used them since 2005 to get out of failing public schools and thrive in private schools.
The scholarship program was the result of a hard-fought grassroots battle by District parents led by Virginia Walden-Ford, whose own son had been given a private scholarship she credited with his academic and professional success. She wanted that opportunity for other students. As was to be expected, teachers unions and nearly all Democrats in Congress aligned against her, but Ford is no stranger to fighting for a quality education against formidable foes. She and her twin sister were among the first black students to integrate Little Rock’s public schools on a larger scale after the Little Rock Nine. She’s the kind of woman the press would lionize, and rightly so, if she didn’t happen to be on the school-choice side of the issue.
But she is, and in 2005, with Republican control of the Senate and some help from a few Democrats, public school students in D.C. got a scholarship, at no cost to the D.C. public school system, which got matching funds to appease detractors.
Fast forward four years, and a Democratic Senate does the unions a solid in 2009:
The Opportunity Scholarship’s $14 million in yearly funding was nixed last week by Senator Dick Durbin, who inserted language in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill to sunset the program at the end of the next school year. On the Senate floor, he and ally Chuck Schumer attributed their action to a newfound interest in evaluating federal programs for effectiveness. Neither mentioned that Durbin counts the National Education Association among his top 10 lifetime contributors. Nor did they mention that Head Start, a federal pre-K education program, which has yet to present the evaluation required by its 1998 reauthorization, was nonetheless funded to the tune of $7 billion in the same bill.
“I had hoped that the successes of these kids would just speak for themselves,” Walden-Ford says, the moms in the room shaking their heads in somber agreement as the room turned serious. “I can’t even imagine telling these kids they have to go back to public schools.”
Nevada Republican John Ensign offered an amendment to strike the Durbin language, but it was predictably defeated, 58-39.