BoardBuzz caught this article from USA Today this week on the Washington, D.C. voucher program. The program is up for reauthorization in Congress, and some unexpected supporters have come out in favor of continuing the program. Historically, Democrats have opposed private school voucher programs that take taxpayer dollars away from public schools. However, a small–but growing–group of black, Democrats have begun to support vouchers as a means of providing new opportunities for minority students particularly in poor, urban areas.
USA Today reported:
While vouchers will likely never be the clarion call of Democrats, they’re beginning to make inroads among a group of young black lawmakers, mayors and school officials who have split with party and teachers union orthodoxy on school reform. The group includes Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Washington, D.C., mayor Anthony Williams.
President Obama included only enough funding in his proposed budget for FY 2010 to allow current students to continue in the Washington, D.C. voucher program. His plan is to let the program expire with the graduation of the current students in the program. Two prominent Democrats, Sens. Diane Feinstein and Robert Byrd joined Republicans in criticizing President Obama’s plan.
The Washington, D.C. voucher program is unique as the only private school voucher program funded with federal tax dollars. Several studies conducted by the Department of Education throughout the years have shown that the program simply does not work. Students have not performed better and or reached higher levels of achievement in the program. View our post about the most recent study. For more information, be sure to check out the Voucher Strategy Center. We’ll continue to follow this as discussions are likely to heat up with new, unexpected bi-partisan support for the program.