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Senator Scott Presses Acting Education Secretary King on DC Vouchers

Today at the Senate HELP Committee hearing on the nomination of Dr. John B. King Jr. for US Education Secretary, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), an ardent supporter of school choice, asked King about expanding DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP), as DC students and families watched.

Here’s the exchange between King and Scott:

SCOTT:  One area that we may have to agree to disagree on is the DC OSP. I know there are parents and students in the audience who have a very passionate position, as I do, on the importance of the DC OSP.

Especially when you look at your commitment to equity and excellence, and the fact that we have a classic example here in Washington DC of a process and a program that has produced numbers and success in a way that’s inconsistent with other schools.

I believe the graduation rate of DC OSP students is around 90%. Other schools in DC are around 62%, some going as low as 38%. The cost per pupil for the DC OSP is somewhere around $9,000-12,000, and for other DC schools it’s over $18,000. So you get about a 50% better graduation rate, and 88% of those students go on to a two-year or four-year college experience.

It seems to me that the administration, and you as Secretary, should take a second look at that program, and look for ways to integrate it and to use to carry over money of $35 million dollars to fund more scholarships. And quite frankly this is not just my perspective but a bipartisan perspective. You look at the support of Senators like Ron Johnson (R-WI) as well as Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) who all have the same opinion of the DC OSP.

What can we do to move the

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On Elections, the Impact of New Hampshire, and the Importance of Education

by Jeanne Allen, Founder & President Emeritus

As the American people are digesting the results of the 2016 New Hampshire primary, and the news media are acting like the contest for president is over, a reminder of how Democracy in America works in is order.

Over 150 years ago, de Tocqueville called the four-year cycle of presidential elections a “revolution… in the name of the law,” writing:

“Long before the appointed day arrives, the election becomes the greatest, and one might say the only, affair occupying men’s minds… As the election draws near, intrigues grow more active and agitation is more lively and widespread. The citizens divide up into several camps… The whole nation gets into a feverish state…”

Wait, you mean that this isn’t the first year people wanted to send a message? The reality is that – thankfully, for the cause of education – the New Hampshire primary is just the beginning. Democracy matters, and for the media and the pundits to begin to declare winners and losers long before November is an assault on what we stand for: knowledge and the cause of opportunity for all Americans.

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Those of us engaged in education know that knowledge matters. In the spirit of knowledge (as well as improving the institutions that help many arrive at such knowledge, namely schools), here are a few American government basics for the voters (and a candidate or two?) of what this Democracy in America that de Tocqueville reported is all about:

1. Many people feel disenfranchised, lacking basic education, work, housing and support. “If ever freedom is lost in America,” de Tocqueville cautioned, “that will be due to the … majority driving minorities to desperation…” But our common sense, he predicted, would most

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Choice Internationally

Today, we celebrate education options internationally, and organizations like Bridge International Academies working to ensure every child has a chance to experience a quality education, regardless of their family’s income.

There are nearly 3 billion people living on less than $2 a day around the world, and Bridge International Academies recognizes that just like in the U.S., a huge gap exists between the education offered and the needs of the population in these communities.

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Bridge International Academies currently serves approximately 100,000 families in Africa, and is expanding soon to Asia. They offer access to low-cost, high-quality private schools, charging fees that are 70% lower than any other private schools in local communities. They work to provide both intellectual and social education for their students, along with preparing them for the 21st century.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done for Josephine Meweni Nyakundi, a Bridge International Academies student in Ongata Rongai in Kajiado Country, just outside of Nairobi, Africa. She dreams of being a neurosurgeon one day so that she can help the people in her community, as its sorely lacking in its supply of qualified doctors. Thanks to Bridge International Academies’ scholarship program, which works to support its top-performing pupils by helping them to complete secondary school in the U.S., she’s closer to realizing her dream.

“With determination, courage, support and assertiveness …you can achieve your dreams, no matter how big they are and despite your current circumstance,” says Josephine of her beloved school.

The scholarships are a testament to the support and dedication of Bridge Academies’ teachers, academy managers and an incredible achievement for the pupils. These children only want to better their lives and the lives of the people around them, and having the choice to attend a school that offers

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