Can We Talk.:In Memory of Hope for the Poor

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Can We Talk.:In Memory of Hope for the Poor


Byline: Deborah Simmons, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Monday is Memorial Day, the American holiday when we pay homage to living and deceased heroes in jubilant and solemn fashion. And while I mean no harm to our commander in chief, I do think it the perfect time to again reflect on the audacity to hope on behalf of our rising generation of youths, who are inextricably tied to troubled school systems.

For some reason, our commander in chief fails to see the value in public education vouchers, and he apparently has an acute disdain for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which grants up to $12,000 in tax money to pay for a poor child's tuition at a private or religious school.

In fact, President Obama wants to slam shut the schoolhouse doors to any new applicants, having proposed in his fiscal 2013 budget that no more children be allowed.

Now, this is not the first time the president has dampened the academic hopes of poverty-stricken families. After all, he grandfathered in children for the D.C. voucher program in 2009 but blocked other children from entering.

Blessedly, Congress intervened in 2010 with the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR), which reconstituted funding for more voucher applicants and laid out guidelines for researching several aspects of the voucher program. SOAR also appropriated money for D.C. traditional and charter schools, and Mr. Obama signed the legislation into law.

But the president is reneging by trying to put an artificial cap on the program of 1,615 students, and that causes two major problems.

For one, as I mentioned earlier, it means no additional students.

More important, it means that researchers will be handicapped, unable to track how effective or ineffective the successful program is, was or can be with new participants.

Public school teachers, by and large, do not like tracking methods because they reflect on an individual teacher's effectiveness and interfere with determining whether a teacher, individually or collectively as a bargaining unit, gets a raise, promotion, bonus or tenure.

Indeed, a serious teacher tracking system is the only component missing from D.C.

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