Lawmakers have won a battle with President Obama to reinstate the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship funding that the president signed into law last year but completely eliminated in this year’s budget proposal.
“For eight years, this scholarship program has empowered low-income parents to choose the best learning environment for their children,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in announcing the agreement. “Thousands of families have taken advantage of this scholarship program to give their children an opportunity to succeed in life, and there’s strong evidence that it’s both effective and cost-effective. I’m pleased that an agreement has been reached to expand the program, consistent with the law already on the books.”
Last year, Obama signed into law the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act to support education reform for D.C. public and charter schools, and to continue the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) that offers disadvantaged students the opportunity to escape failing schools.
After Obama then turned around and zeroed out funding for the school-choice program (the OSP), Boehner and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) wrote Obama back in March to ask that he reverse course and fully implement the program.
“I am grateful that we have reached an agreement with the Department to fully implement the SOAR Act and the OSP program,” Lieberman said. “This program provides a lifeline to many needy children.”
Under the agreement, there will be no enrollment cap in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and parents can continue to submit both new and renewal applications.
Before the agreement, Boehner’s legislation to reauthorize the program had passed through the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“Independent studies and reports from parents and students have validated the educational benefits the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has provided to low-income D.C. students,” committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and D.C. Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a joint response. “We are pleased that the Obama Administration has apparently given up on its opposition to fully implementing this bipartisan initiative. Speaker Boehner, Senator Lieberman, and others who believe children should have a choice – including parent advocates for the program – have our thanks for their efforts to secure the continuation of this important educational initiative.”