Quiet D.C. Scholarship Program Expansion Gives Me a Summertime Smile

Anyone who has followed my opinions here for awhile knows that I’m a big fan of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides real choices to a small number of needy students in our nation’s capital. Well, I had to smile because the Washington Post reports this week that leaders from both parties in Congress have struck a deal with President Obama to continue and expand the program:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the authors of legislation that reauthorized and expanded the Opportunity Scholarship Program, said they had reached an agreement with the White House to ensure that there would be no cap on enrollment in the program and that parents can apply to have their children stay in or join the program and get a response as soon as possible.

You read it right. The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke confirms: “The 1,615-student cap on enrollment will now be lifted and as many children as meet the income threshold will be able to apply.” I’m not much into fairy tales, but Jay Greene guest blogger Greg Forster says the agreement means D.C.’s “frog vouchers” could turn into a prince!

So yes, 2011 was clearly the Year of School Choice. But it should be noted that the focus in 2012 was not on rescuing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program from the brink but on quietly strengthening the program to provide educational choices for more families, increase the number of high school graduates, and save the state money in the process. Can’t we all stand up and cheer for that?