Why is it a great day for the children of Washington, D.C., you ask?
Because with the coming passage of the 2011 budget bill, President Obama will sign into law one of the most successful education programs in Washington, D.C. history: The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.
The program — which was started during the Bush Administration to provide low-income District students with money to attend private schools — was closed by Democrats in 2009, largely because of pressure from the Teacher’s unions. The House recently passed a Boehner-authored bill last month — the SOAR Act — to reauthorize the program for five more years, and that bill will be included in the final spending deal and signed into law by Obama.
The scholarship program is opposed by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and current Mayor Vincent Gray, but backed by City Council Chairman Kwame Brown and former mayors Anthony Williams and Marion Barry. It has also been favored by the vast majority of constituents in the District by almost any poll you can find. Back in 2009, hundreds of parents and children marched in the streets to try to save the program, to no avail.
I wrote extensively about this program back in 2009, which can be read here. It was an outrage to cancel the program in the first place, and the first sign that the Obama Administration, for all their tough talk about education, would follow traditional liberal paths and concede to Teachers Unions at every turn. Since the program was canceled, at least 4,000 impoverished children in one of the worst school systems in the United States have been prevented from accessing the same level of education that Barack Obama provides his two daughters.
Congratulations to Speaker Boehner and Republicans for not simply placating special interests when in comes to education…but actually providing access and choice to parents in the District.
Update: Not surprisingly, Moe Lane of RedState beat me to the punch.