Last night, Education Sec. Arne Duncan broke with leading Democrats on Capitol Hill, saying that he thinks that D.C. kids receiving vouchers should be allowed to stay in their private schools: “I don’t think it makes sense to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning.”
That’s very welcome news to the 1,700 D.C. kids currently participating in the scholarship program. But what remains unclear is where the Obama administration stands on continuing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program — and, specifically, offering scholarships to more D.C. kids.
Parsing the Secretary’s words, it sounds like he’s indicating that he only supports allowing current scholarship recipients to stay in their schools. Sadly, we know that thousands of other D.C. children are trapped in low-performing public schools. If scholarships aren’t available to future students, the D.C. voucher program will slowly die over time.
So President Obama still has a tough choice to make: Will he support continuing a program that gives low-income families the chance to choose the best school for their kids?
As many people have pointed out, when making that decision, the President shares the perspective of other D.C. parents who view private schools as the best choice for their children. But what’s often overlooked is that President Obama also shares the perspective of the scholarship recipients. After all, he received a scholarship to attend an excellent private school in Hawaii. That school helped put him on the path to the Ivy League and, ultimately, the White House. He is perhaps the greatest school choice success story.
What a great opportunity he has to give D.C. children the same chance.
— Dan Lips is senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.