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DC Vouchers: Success on All Fronts

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The numbers are in from the 2012-13 school year, and parents with students in the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program are overwhelmingly satisfied with schools their children attend, as well as their children’s academic progress.

It’s not hard to see why parents are happy, with 97% of DC OSP students graduating from high school and 91% enrolling at a 2-or-4 year college.

Please see here for the complete Parental Satisfaction & Program Summary for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program 2012-2013.

For more information on school choice, check out Facts on School Choice and the Parent Power Index.

Passions High Around School Voucher Bill

by Mark Binker
WRAL
May 21, 2013

In a packed room, the House Education Committee heard Tuesday from supporters and opponents of a plan to give taxpayer-funded scholarships for low income students that attend private schools.

The crowd precluded any committee debate or a vote on the bill, as legislators used the limited time to hear from the public – those in favor and against the Opportunity Scholarship Act

The committee did roll out a new version of the bill and an accompanying summary that explains the bill.

“The bill before you, in reality, will not help the students it is intended to help,” Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson told the committee. She focused her comments on the fact that private schools do not have to report student test results and performance in the same way public schools do.

“If a grading scale of A-through-F is good for public schools, then it should be good for private schools,” she said. How else, she asked, would parents know if the private school they are choosing actually offers a better education than their current public school.

Proponents of the bill said that voucher programs in other states have helped improve student test scores.

“I’m struck by the amount of opposition to something some people have never seen working in progress,” said Jeanne Allen is the Founder and President of The Center for Education Reform.

The committee is expected to debate and vote on the bill next week.

Improving American Education With School Choice

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Voucher Talk Resumes

“Tennessee planning for school vouchers nears final stages”
by Richard Locker
Commercial Appeal
October 1, 2012

A special commission appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam is about to begin drafting its final recommendations on how a Tennessee school-voucher program would operate, including who would be eligible for taxpayer dollars for private school tuition.

The voucher issue returns to the state legislature in January after a year’s hiatus. The state Senate narrowly approved a voucher bill in 2011, sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, that allowed students whose family incomes were low enough to qualify them for free or discounted school lunches to take half the taxpayer money spent per-pupil in their school district to pay private school tuition.

House leaders were more reluctant to open a political battle over vouchers and just before the 2012 session opened, Haslam asked lawmakers to stand down and let him appoint a task force to examine the issue and make recommendations this fall for the 2013 legislature to consider.

He said Tennessee needed time for the major changes in state education policy to get up and running before embarking on another. The earlier changes included the end of collective bargaining by teachers, major changes to teacher tenure and performance evaluations, and higher standards for a revised core curriculum for K-12, plus a shift from enrollment-based funding for higher education to performance-based funding.

The “Governor’s Task Force on Opportunity Scholarships” held its fourth meeting Wednesday and although differences among its members continue, its chairman, state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, made it clear that the panel’s charge from the governor is not to debate whether to have a voucher program but rather how a program should operate — its legal parameters — if lawmakers create one.

Key issues include when to launch a program; whether to put family-income limits on participation; whether to limit

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DC Opportunity Scholarships In Danger Again

The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP) is once again on the chopping block as President Obama has allocated zero funds to the program in his proposed 2013 federal budget. DC OSP, a voucher program for low-income families in the District, has struggled to exist since the President took office in 2009, even though data shows that students participating in the program are gaining 3.1 months of additional learning in reading than students in conventional public schools.

Last year, the President reached a budget deal with Congress to reauthorize DC OSP. The funds are part of a three-sector approach to funding education in the District, distributing $60 million over five years to DC Public Schools, DC charter schools, and this voucher program.

It appears that school choice advocates such as OSP champions Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) breathed a sigh of relief too soon after last year’s agreement was finalized. The Administration is claiming that there are enough funds for students currently in the program. This would mean that no new students would be allowed to participate, a tactic the President has tried in the past. President Obama once said he would support programs that work. DC OSP not only works for the students participating (as the research shows), but also has strong parent satisfaction and support from the community, as well as bi-partisan support in Congress.

Do your part by contacting your Senator and House Representative to show support for the continuation of this proven option for families in our nation’s capital.

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