The American Enterprise Institute runs the numbers on Washington DC’s now defunct Opportunity Scholarship Program. That program allowed numerous black kids in the district to escape the city’s failing schools and attend private schools. Their grades went up. Their graduation rates went up.
The District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) produced $2.62 in benefits for every dollar spent on it. In other words, the return on public investment for the private-school voucher program during its early years was 162 percent.
Until Barack Obama unilaterally killed the program in 2009. Republicans got it restarted in the 2011 budget deal. But Obama killed it again this year.
The OSP didn’t take a single dollar from the DC school system. It was an expense outside the school system’s costs, and schools from which the OSP kids escaped still received the money as if those students were still in public schools. So that wasn’t the problem.
The return on investment was extraordinary — 162%. So that wasn’t the problem.
Obama has not been shy about spending money elsewhere. The national debt has gone up more than $5 trillion on his watch. His government has spent taxpayer money advertising for food stamps, and under his watch the government’s free cell phone program has grown explosively.
He can’t blame partisanship. The Democrats, his own party, controlled Congress when it passed his 2009 budget, which killed the program.
So what’s the president’s problem with this program? Does he have something against inner city black kids attending good schools? Is it really all about satisfying the teachers unions, which steadfastly oppose school choice? From an outside point of view, it sure looks like Barack Obama rates the teachers unions’ wishes far above the needs of DC’s disadvantaged students.