Tag Archives: Illinois

Sign of Hopeful Political Shift as Families Rally for D.C. School Choice

Some day I might grow up to be cynical about education politics, but for now I see a big glimmer of hope. What do I mean? Look at yesterday’s Wall Street Journal: Low-income families in the District of Columbia got some encouraging words yesterday from an unlikely source. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin signaled that he may be open to reauthorizing the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a school voucher program that allows 1,700 disadvantaged kids to opt out of lousy D.C. public schools and attend a private school. “I have to work with my colleagues if this is going to be reauthorized, which it might be,” said Mr. Durbin at an appropriations hearing Tuesday morning. He also said that he had visited one of the participating private schools and understood that “many students are getting a good education from the program.” This could be the sign of a big turnaround for the influential Democratic senator, whom I have rightly critiqued in the past. At the Flypaper blog, Andy Smarick says Durbin’s statement “was a major step in the right direction”, and wonders if the D.C. 6’s dramatic sit-in a few weeks ago had an impact.

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Politicians Attacking Successful, Locally-Supported DC Choice Program

I may get the occasional snarky comment from people who don’t like school choice, but don’t feel bad for me. Instead, get angry about the kids in Washington DC who are in the middle of a political tug-of-war over their Opportunity Scholarships and educational futures. Why get angry? [Illinois Democrat] Senator [Dick] Durbin was busy introducing new, onerous regulations on the program in an appropriations bill last week. In particular, his measures would require participating private schools to take the DC public school test rather than a nationally-normed standardized test, even though they may not have the same curriculum as DCPS. His measures would also require the Secretary of Education to prohibit voucher students from attending any private school that was not deemed “superior” to DC public schools.

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School Choice Takes National TV Stage at Last Night's Presidential Debate

In contrast with the unimpressive remarks provided at the vice-presidential debate, I was excited to hear the candidates in last night’s presidential debate talk so much about school choice. The candidates agree on public school choice. First, an excerpt of Senator John McCain’s remarks: So choice and competition amongst schools is one of the key elements that’s already been proven in places in like New Orleans and New York City and other places, where we have charter schools, where we take good teachers and we reward them and promote them…. Charter schools aren’t the only answer, but they’re providing competition. They are providing the kind of competitions that have upgraded both schools — types of schools. And here’s some of what Senator Barack Obama had to say: Charter schools, I doubled the number of charter schools in Illinois despite some reservations from teachers unions. I think it’s important to foster competition inside the public schools. But then came the point of disagreement.

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Chicago Parents Glad for Charter School Option; Coloradans Can't Wait to Get In

Sometimes people get tired of seeing what I have to say about the need for more school choice. It’s times like these that are good to hear from real parents and students who benefit from having options. In that spirit, here’s a video created by the Illinois Policy Institute talking to families who benefit from charter schools in Chicago: As Denise at Colorado Charters points out, our state is blessed by comparison. In a state that serves nearly three times as many public school students, Illinois only enrolls 19,000 students (or fewer than 1 in 100) in public charter schools. Colorado has about 55,000 charter school students (or about 1 in 15 of the total public school population). Still, though, the demand is great. As Denise reminds us, 24,000 are on waiting lists to get in. What are we waiting for? Isn’t public education mainly about serving the kids and providing them the options that fit them best?

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