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Letter to the House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee Opposing Funding for the DC Voucher Program

June 22, 2009

Dear Representative:

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” voucher program as part of the FY10 Financial Services Appropriations bill. 

NEA opposes any extension of the DC voucher program beyond what is currently provided for under current law.  This voucher program, designed as a five-year pilot, has already been extended for one additional year specifically to allow participating students and schools to adjust to the program’s termination and make the necessary transitions.  The program has not been proven to increase student achievement.  There is no reason to continue to divert scarce resources to a pilot program that has been proven ineffective.

Vouchers are not real education reform.  Pulling 1,200 children out of a system that serves 65,000 doesn’t solve problems — it ignores them.  Real reform will put a qualified teacher in every classroom, keep their skills up to date with continuing education, and raise pay to attract and retain the best teachers.  Rather than offering a chance for a few, we should be ensuring that every child has access to a great public school. 

The evidence is clear and overwhelming: if our intent is to help children succeed, the answer is not a one-size-fits-all magic elixir that has thus far proven only that it does not improve the academic achievement of students attending schools in need of improvement.  The answer is to identify and fund proven school improvement strategies.

We urge Congress to reject efforts to appropriate any additional funding for the DC voucher program and, instead, focus resources on proven strategies to help ALL children excel.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy