Despite the hopes of opponents that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program would quietly be phased out, supporters for this small and successful voucher program are tenacious. See here for an op-ed in today’s Washington Post.
The fight has now been going on for months and a recent proposed amendment by Senate. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) to the Federal Aviation Administration would have reauthorized the program for another five years, allow new children to enter the program, modestly increase scholarship amounts, and continue a rigorous federal evaluation.
The Senate heard debate on Sen. Lieberman’s amendment this afternoon, including compelling speeches from Sens. Lieberman (I-CT), Collins (R-ME), Feinstein (D-CA), Voinovich (R-OH), and Ensign (R-NV)in support of the OSP.
Unfortunately the Senate voted down the Lieberman Amendment: 42 – 55.
This is a tragedy for the students of D.C. and for many urban private schools serving low-income minority children, as I’ve discussed earlier. This proves to opponents, yet again, that this program won’t go away quietly and that parents and education reform advocates will keep fighting.
My guess is that this issue will come up again and again until the program is reauthorized, likely bigger and better than the first time. This may happen as soon as the mid-term elections, where it is likely that democrats will lose ground.
So, although this is a loss in the short term, I think it will prove that these programs don’t die easily and are likely to be resurrected quickly when the landscape changes. And in the mean time, while the fight in D.C.continues, many other states are making progress.