The Corner

School Choice Survives, Sort Of

School choice in DC wins a one-year reprieve, but its long-term outlook remains grim:

A House Appropriations subcommittee voted yesterday to fund for another year the federal voucher program that allows about 2,000 low-income D.C. children to attend private schools. But the panel’s chairman said that this was probably the last time that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program would receive full financial support from the government.

The program, which provides students with $7,500 for tuition and fees, is at the end of the five-year authorization it received from a Republican-controlled Congress in 2003. Congressional Democrats, now in the majority, generally oppose the use of public funds for private education and have said the program will not be reauthorized.

Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), chairman of the subcommittee on financial services and general government, said that although he opposes vouchers, he wanted to give District leaders a chance to restructure the program. He is proposing that the initiative be renewed at $14.8 million, its current level of funding.

“There is still a lot of discussion, both in the city and the school community, as to what the future of the program should be,” Serrano said.

He added, “I expect that during the next year the District leaders will come forward with a firm plan for either rolling back the program or providing some alternative options.”

The measure goes to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration next week.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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