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Letter to the Senate to reject any efforts to extend funding for DC Vouchers

July 09, 2008

Dear Senator:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to reject any efforts to extend funding for the District of Columbia's "Opportunity Scholarship Program." This program was created in 2004 as a five-year voucher experiment and is set to expire this September.

The DC voucher program has yielded no evidence of a positive impact on student achievement. The program is poorly administered and diverts $14 million from struggling public schools. A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, issued in November 2007, found that administrative and accountability problems pervade the DC voucher program, undermining fiscal and operational integrity. GAO found, for example, that the program supports private schools that do not charge tuition and schools that use unqualified teachers - some do not have even bachelor's degrees. (The complete GAO report, District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program: Additional Policies and Procedures Would Improve Internal Controls and Program Operations, is available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d089.pdf)

All DC children deserve to go to a great public school. Our nation's capital needs real education reform - not vouchers - to ensure that no child gets left behind. This reform requires meaningful resources, not a diversion of funding to vouchers. We urge you to let this program expire as scheduled, with no funding for fiscal year 2009.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy