Mayor Gray is misguided on school vouchers
A great Washington Post editorial calling out DC Mayor Gray for not supporting the DC voucher program (with a great shout out for DFER Chairman Kevin Chavous):
IF D.C. MAYOR Vincent C. Gray isn't careful, he could well argue the District out of $60 million in federal education dollars. Testifying before a Senate committee against the voucher program that enables low-income students to attend private schools, Mr. Gray (D) was warned that extra money for the city's traditional and public schools was likely conditioned on congressional reauthorization of vouchers. Money alone isn't reason for Mr. Gray to change his mind, but given that District children benefit from the program and that parents are desperate for the choice it affords, it's unfathomable that he is opposing this worthwhile program.
Mr. Gray was among those who appeared Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs as it considered legislation to extend the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, including an important provision to allow new students to be enrolled. Mr. Gray said that efforts should be focused on improving public schools, that Congress was inappropriately intruding into local affairs and that D.C. parents have enough education choices, given the number of flourishing charter schools and the public school reforms starting to take hold.
Those assertions were quite convincingly contradicted by other speakers. Former D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous recounted how, as chairman of the council's education committee, he worked with "hundreds, probably thousands" of parents to persuade Congress to establish the program in 2003. "To say that this program was imposed on the District of Columbia is to rewrite history and in one broad brush white-out the hard work of these parents. Quite frankly, it's offensive," he said.