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The PJ Tatler

by
Richard Pollock

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January 25, 2011 - 2:24 pm

The Tatler has learned that school choice in the nation’s capital might be revived and get a new boost .

Tomorrow House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will announce their intention to restore Washington, D.C.’s school choice scholarship program, which has helped more than 1700 low-income students.  Under pressure from teacher unions, President Obama killed the program which was established by Congress. The program helped underprivileged and minority children attend private or parochial schools and escape the most troubled schools in the failing D.C. public school program.

Today a GOP aide told the Tatler it was no accident that the House Speaker and Lieberman were timing their announcement the day after the State of the Union, saying it was a real opportunity amid all the talk about bi-partisanship.  “The President wants to talk about bipartisan education reform?  Here’s an opportunity,” he told the Tatler.

The scholarship program was ended last year by the President, even as local Democrats pleaded for its continuation. It had been supported by former Democratic Mayor Adrian Fenty and his school chancellor, Michelle Rhee, both of whom are now gone.  The range of support was widespread, from former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry to the former head the private Sidwell Friends school, where the Obamas currently send their two children.

A federally mandated study found the school choice program provided widespread benefits for the students, including significantly greater high school graduation rates.

President Obama has disappointed many D.C. residents by not being a fierce advocate for nation’s capital.  One of his most prominent symbolic acts in the city was a decision early in his administration to drop by Ben’s Chili Bowl, a local landmark restaurant.  The GOP aide nudged the President to be a bit more meaningful in his support of District residents: “Supporting the people of Washington, D.C. doesn’t just mean eating at Ben’s Chili Bowl – it means helping their kids get a decent education.”

Richard Pollock is the Washington, D.C., editor for PJ Media and the Washington bureau chief of PJTV.

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