Sunday, April 17, 2011
A Washington, D.C. School Voucher Success Story
The debate over use of a voucher program in Washington, D.C. has been long and contentious, and with the signing into law recently of the continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year, the city's receipt of $300 million to reinstitute that program is sure to draw some fire. Indeed, Mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and others are decrying the inclusion of this funding and - in their opinion - stripping away the city's home rule, despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution and the 1973 Home Rule Act dictate that final authority over the administration of the D.C. government, including the budget, remains in the hands of Congress.
In all of this debate, however, the voices who are being drowned out are those of the families who have benefitted from having this program in place. Political posturing aside, aren't the students and their parents or guardians the ones who should have the greatest say in decisions involving their educational opportunities? I was reminded today of a guest piece submitted to the Washington Post on February 5, 2011 by a parent whose child was the beneficiary of the voucher program. As the mother writes,
Jerlisa isn’t the only one who has benefited from this experience. I, too, started to feel more confident. Now I ask about resources and fill out scholarship applications with ease. I found a way to buy new uniforms for my daughter. Instead of washing uniforms every afternoon, I use the time to help my daughter with her homework.
And seeing Jerlisa’s growth over the past six years has inspired me to take some hard steps in my own life. I’m now applying to programs to become a home health-care nurse. Meanwhile, Jerlisa is deciding where to apply for college.
These are things we never dreamed were possible before. I am extremely proud of my daughter, and she is proud of me. Jerlisa’s scholarship has been worth so much more than $7,500.
You can read the entire piece here.