by Craig Masters
In May 2012 President Obama’s budget request was completely rejected by Congress, failing to receive even a single vote. That budget proposal was so bad, not even Nancy Pelosi voted it.Thank God that the children trapped in the failing school system of Washington D.C. escaped that Obama budget. The reason is because that budget, universally rejected by Congress – every single member – had, as one of its ‘real’ spending cuts, the only educational opportunity for low-income children in the nation’s capital. Had it been approved, Obama would have cut all funds for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. As has come to be the normal for this President, the cuts were included in spite of his agreement in the spring to reauthorize the program!
Ohio Republican Senator, John Boehner, worked to gain the support of Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman to reinstate the exceptionally successful program. Eventually, as the campaign grew more intense, Obama again issued a statement indicating his support for the program. While there is no evidence to indicate he won’t drop his support after the election, there is a reason to believe he will: another under-the-table union deal.
DCOSP provides scholarships to low-income students in the nation’s capital to attend private schools of their choice. The reason for teacher union opposition is not difficult to understand. The program allows for students to attend schools at significantly lower cost to taxpayers while at the same time producing significantly higher graduation rates than D.C. public schools. A DCOSP scholarship stands at just $8,000 for a K-8 student or $12,000 for a 9-12 grade student. That compares to the nearly $30,000 per pupil in the D.C. public system.
With a granddaughter at Front Range, nephews at Penn State and Ohio State, a niece at Columbia and another one getting her doctorate at Wisconsin, I can verify that $30,000 a year will get you a decent education. That would cover the coats at the Sidwell Friends School where the Obamas send their daughters. But somehow, while taxpayers are paying prestigious school rates, they are only getting ghetto schools.
The problem for Obama and the union is that the $30,000 per year the taxpayers are being charged to cover the cost of a D.C. child’s education is twice the national average and returning one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation as well as some of the country’s lowest achievement scores? The graduation rate for D.C.’s public students has only averaged around 60 percent for the past few years. The national average is 74 percent.