WASHINGTON, March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is one step closer to being restored and expanded after the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) today voted to move reauthorization legislation to the full House.
The SOAR Act would reauthorize, for five additional years, the highly successful Opportunity Scholarship Program which benefits children from low-income District families. It would also provide $40 million per year for the District's public schools and public charter schools as part of a three-sector approach to education reform championed by city residents.
The program has provided scholarships to 3,300 children since its inception but was slated for elimination by President Obama and some Members of Congress—despite the fact that students who were offered, and used, their scholarships posted graduation rates of 91 percent and demonstrated gains in reading.
"Parents across the District of Columbia salute Speaker John Boehner, Chairman Darrell Issa, subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy and the entire committee today for giving D.C. families a true voice," said Virginia Walden Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice. "We encourage the full House of Representatives to vote YES on the SOAR Act and to send a clear message—that every child deserves access to a quality education and that children in low-income families should have the right to attend the same schools as the children of politicians."
Seventy-four percent of District residents support reauthorizing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, and city support is led by D.C. City Council Chairman Kwame Brown. The legislation is supported by a bipartisan coalition in the Senate, with sponsors including Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee).
"After my daughter's scholarship was revoked by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, I have been so thankful that Speaker Boehner and Congressmen Issa and Gowdy have not forgotten the families of the District of Columbia—even while our own Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, refuses to support us," said D.C. mother LaTasha Bennett. "Today is a day of hope and excitement, and all Members of Congress should agree that it is fundamentally wrong to deny children like my daughter to the opportunity to attend a quality school."
SOURCE D.C. Parents for School Choice