In a momentous victory for D.C. schoolchildren, Speaker John Boehner succeeded in reauthorizing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in the long-term continuing resolution to which the Obama administration agreed just before midnight. As Kathryn noted late last night, “John Boehner just walked Barack Obama into being a civil-rights leader.”
In February 2009, Sen. Richard Durbin buried language in a behemoth government-spending bill prohibiting any new students from receiving scholarships. And after nearly two years of fighting to regain access to schools that work and are safe, scholarship families late last night won their futures.
The Students for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR), sponsored by Speaker Boehner, was included in its entirety in the long-term continuing resolution. The program will now be authorized for a full five years, ensuring low-income students in D.C. have access to a quality education and removing any uncertainty those students already in the program felt.
SOAR made it through the House last Wednesday as a separate bill, but its outlook in the Senate was uncertain to say the least. Moreover, President Obama had made his opposition to the scholarships clear, sending out a press release in advance of the House vote disingenuously claiming that the program had failed to improve academic outcomes for children.
Speaker Boehner’s success at getting the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program included in the long-term CR last night has ensured children in D.C. will have access to scholarships for several years, and guarantees those already receiving scholarships that they will not be thrown back into the poorest-performing public schools in the country. It’s a long-awaited and much-deserved victory for D.C. families.
— Lindsey Burke is a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.