Friday, April 15, 2011

D.C. Parents, Community Leaders Call on Congress to Pass Continuing Resolution and Fund D.C. Education Reform

In my last email about the passage of the DC voucher bill, I should have also given kudos to The Center for Education Reform and BAEO.  Here's a press release from BAEO today:

D.C. Parents, Community Leaders Call on Congress to Pass Continuing Resolution and Fund D.C. Education Reform

Washington, D.C. (April 11, 2011) - The historic budget agreement reached by Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama this weekend will significantly benefit D.C. schoolchildren and deserves to win passage by Congress this week, leaders of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and D.C. Parents for School Choice said today.

The proposed Continuing Resolution (CR), championed by Speaker Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and President Obama, would provide $300 million in extra funding for education in the District of Columbia -- money that will not be available for D.C. children if the CR fails to win passage. Money would be made available for public schools, public charter schools, and for the highly-successful and popular D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP).

"Parents and community leaders are overjoyed that despite the often bitter partisan disagreements in Congress, our elected officials came together to preserve and protect funding for D.C. education reform," said Kevin P. Chavous, a former D.C. Councilman and chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). "The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has been a lifeline for thousands of low-income children and deserves to continue for five additional years. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to provide children here in the District with the best possible educational options."

The three-sector D.C. education funding plan is highly-popular among residents and leaders in the District of Columbia. More than 74 percent of D.C. residents strongly support the initiative, according to a public opinion survey released in late February 2011.

In addition, a majority of D.C. Council Members with public views on the issue -- including Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown -- signed a letter in late February calling on Congress to reauthorize the program.

In the letter to Congress, which was released today, Council Members Kwame Brown, Alexander, Barry, Bowser, Biddle and Thomas wrote: "At a time when the city's finances are so strained, we must make every effort to ensure this federal funding continues for all three sectors. The OSP is a vital part, ensuring that thousands of District children and their parents have maximum options for access to educational opportunity. We must keep every option on the table for low-income families. We cannot and should not take options away from these families."

Former D.C. Mayors Adrian Fenty, Anthony A. Williams, and Marion Barry also support the program's reauthorization.

BAEO also called on members of the news media to recognize that strong local support exists for education reform in the District, despite the troubling rhetoric of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

"It is disappointing and unhelpful to District residents that Delegate Norton has chosen partisan and incendiary rhetoric – telling Congress to 'go straight to hell' – rather than trying to work constructively on a bipartisan basis with her Congressional colleagues," Chavous said. "On the issue of funding for D.C.'s kids, we are confident that Congressional leaders and President Obama will see through this special interest vitriol and move forward with their agreement."

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