Education Reform Success That Obama Ignores; Providing City Kids with Opportunity Used to Be Democrats' Job 1

Article excerpt

Byline: Virginia Walden Ford, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As a mother of three who has spent more than a decade working alongside thousands of parents to improve education for children in the Dis- trict of Columbia, I can't help but cringe when the president tells moms and dads they need to fight for better schools and be more responsible.

Responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but it begins in our homes, said President Obama during a speech last week. "It begins with parents. .. But that's not

where the responsibility ends All of us have a responsibility, not just as parents, but as citizens, for giving our kids the best possible education."

Regrettably, the president's rallying cry doesn't match the reality of his own public policy right here in Washington.

Thousands of parents in the District have fought responsibly and tirelessly to create, promote, and now restore and extend the highly effective D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which provides scholarships to low-income children to attend a private school of their parents' choice. But now, this program is on life support - not because parents aren't being responsible - but because Mr. Obama hasn't listened to our repeated pleas or looked at the data from his own Department of Education, which proves the program works.

The OSP has allowed low-income families, frustrated with failing and often unsafe D.C. public schools, to seek new and better options, while simultaneously fostering increased parental involvement in their children's education. Here in the District, parents can't wait on rhetoric that isn't translated into policy. Parents already have chosen the Opportunity Scholarship Program because it gives parents a choice and their children hope. It's a sterling example of parents taking responsibility, but it goes unnoticed by the Obama administration.

In the same speech, Mr. Obama said that education reform must focus on finding and implementing solutions that work.

Again, nice rhetoric, but it ignores reality here in the District. When you ignore a program that has more than 3,300 success stories and a 91 percent graduation rate for children who used their scholarships - more than 30 percentage points higher than children in conventional D. …