Don't Let Union and Congress Grinches Stop D.C. Opportunity Scholarships

Remember the poor kids in our nation’s capital who benefit from the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program?

Last night D.C. Parents for School Choice Executive Director Virginia Walden Ford sent out an email alerting supporters about a new troubling development from Capitol Hill:

Just an hour ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the omnibus bill that kills the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). This is devastating news, and it means that if this bill makes it through the U.S. Senate and is signed into law by President Obama, the OSP will slowly die, with no new students permitted to access great schools through this groundbreaking program.

When we began the fight to save this program more than a year ago, we pledged that we would fight hard and fight long and fight to the finish. We said we wouldn’t give up–regardless of the odds. Tonight is no exception. The House passed the voucher-killing omnibus by a tiny margin. The Senate must still act. So, we have not yet been defeated in our effort.

To get the full picture, check out a new Weekly Standard piece by Sheryl Blunt aptly titled “The Teachers’ Unions that Stole Christmas”:

This spring National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel bluntly reminded Senators that “opposition to vouchers is a top priority for NEA,” and warned them that the NEA would be paying keen attention to how they vote on vouchers.

“The National Education Association strongly opposes any extension of the District of Columbia private school voucher (‘DC Opportunity Scholarship’) program,” Van Roekel wrote in a March 5, 2009 letter. “We expect that Members of Congress who support public education, and whom we have supported, will stand firm against any proposal to extend the pilot program. Actions associated with these issues WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress.”

The Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics recently released data showing that the NEA topped the chart as the number one national donor during the 2007-08 election cycle, shelling out $57.6 million in combined federal and state contributions. The American Federation of Teachers was number 25, with more than $13 million in contributions.

Yes, the D.C. scholarship kids have been under attack from the National Education Association and (to a lesser extent) the Secretary of Education, while a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has fought hard on their behalf — even though Colorado’s U.S. Senators have cast votes against parental choice.

I don’t know how many in Congress and at NEA headquarters have a heart that’s “two sizes too small” or “have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile.” Call me crazy Cindy-Lou Who, but I remember how that Dr. Seuss story ends. So I’m holding out hope that the families and their school choice will win.

Because after all, it’s not just about having a heart but also about voting for an effective policy: Save the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program!