President Obama should ‘get out of the way’ of D.C. voucher program

Chavous

Kevin Chavous, a senior advisor to the American Federation for Children, criticizes President Obama in this recent Washington Post op-ed for not supporting the Washington D.C. voucher program and suggests a new approach for Term 2:

I have long been a supporter of the president, and I continue to applaud many of his education initiatives, including his embrace of charter schools. But his administration’s opposition to giving low-income families the full slate of educational options — captured when he zeroed out funding for the program in his budget this year, despite the earlier deal in which he agreed to reauthorizing the program for five years — is unacceptable. …

These roadblocks are part of a long history of the administration’s resolute opposition to the voucher program, from Education Secretary Arne Duncan rescinding 216 scholarships in 2009 to the department ignoring the positive results of a gold-standard study, conducted by its own Institute of Education Sciences, that found that D.C. voucher students graduate at a rate of 91 percent — more than 20 percentage points higher than those who sought a voucher but either didn’t get one or didn’t enroll in the program after being accepted. Because of the delaying tactics of the department, a credible — and federally mandated — new study of the program cannot be conducted unless the program enrolls hundreds of new students next year. …

On many occasions during his first term, President Obama demonstrated an ability to embrace education reforms that help kids, and I expect that to continue now that he has won a decisive reelection. What’s different about this one? This is an easy one: All he and his Education Department have to do is get out of the way and let a successful program work. Full op-ed here.

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