Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Senate Approves First Federal School Voucher Plan

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Senate Approves First Federal School Voucher Plan

Article excerpt

The Senate approved the country's first federal school voucher program last month, a District of Columbia experiment with implications for school choice nationwide.

The $13 million plan would award private-school vouchers to at least 1,700 poor students in the District, home to a chronically struggling system of 65,000 students. Students must gain admission to a private school and cover tuition or other costs exceeding their vouchers.

The Senate's action, following the House's approval of the plan in December gives an election-year win to President Bush, who views choice as integral to public school reform (see Black Issues, Jan. 1). Bush has already proposed another $50 million for voucher programs in the next budget year.

Jeanne Allen, president of the Washington-based Center for Education Reform, said states mad school districts will still drive decisions over whether to offer private-school choice. But the move by Congress for the district "gives a tremendous boost to the cause of more choice for parents, and makes it something people across the country will want to know about," she said.

The voucher plan is part of the massive, $373 billion spending bill Bush signed late last month. …

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