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Letter to the Senate on the FY09 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill regarding DC vouchers

July 10, 2008

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to offer our views on the compromise subcommittee language in the FY09 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill regarding the District of Columbia "Opportunity Scholarship Program." While we continue our strong opposition to the voucher program, we believe the subcommittee language offers a reasonable compromise that will eventually lead to the program's end.

NEA consistently has urged that this program end, as was initially intended, at the close of the 2008-2009 school year. Over the five year span of the program, its effectiveness has not been proven and it is clear that the funding could have been spent in far more useful ways to serve all students in the DC public schools.

As we understand it, the funding in the bill as approved by the subcommittee would provide one additional year of funding (for the 2009-2010 school year). However, the bill also stipulates that no funding beyond the 2009-2010 year will be provided, absent an authorization of the program. We appreciate the intent of this provision, which will require a comprehensive look at the program before any future funds are considered. We are certain that a thorough examination will make clear the program's ineffectiveness and inappropriateness, which should ensure that it is not reauthorized.

We also appreciate provisions included by the subcommittee that preclude the use of vouchers for schools lacking a certificate of occupancy for the District and for schools in which teachers teaching core subjects do not have college degrees.

We thank you for your consideration of our views on this important issue.


Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy