by Andrea Noble
The Washington Times
May 14, 2015
Shirley-Ann Tomdio, a junior at George Washington University studying to be an orthopedic surgeon, ticked off a list of accomplishments that would make any parent proud.
The daughter of Cameroonian immigrants, Ms. Tomdio earned honors before graduating from Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, was an editor of her school’s literary magazine, won awards on the track team and serves as a leader of a women’s empowerment group.
Speaking about her accomplishments before a panel of federal lawmakers Thursday in the auditorium of Archbishop Carroll High School, Ms. Tomdio credited her successes to her parents’ perseverance, as well as a school voucher program that made it possible for her to attend to the private high school.
“The scholarship has allowed me to build a strong foundation for myself,” she said. “As the oldest, I have to set an example for my siblings and most importantly, myself.”
Congress is gearing up to reauthorize funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that aided Ms. Tomdio — a school voucher program that provides disadvantaged families with money to subsidize their children’s enrollment at private schools in the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, President Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget includes cuts to the program.
A GOP-controlled Congress established the federal voucher program in 2004, which has awarded stipends of up to $12,572 per student to send more than 6,000 D.C. children to private schools.
But since its establishment, the program has been a point of political contention, with critics questioning its impact on student achievement and calling on the government to focus resources on public schools.
Program supporters say it gives families a choice outside a troubled public school system.
“Despite spending more per student than any jurisdiction in the country, D.C. Public Schools continue to struggle when it comes to educating students,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican,