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Letter to the House of Representatives urging an end to the DC voucher experiment

April 29, 2008

END THE DC VOUCHER EXPERIMENT


Dear Representative:

On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to reject President Bush’s proposal to extend the District of Columbia’s so-called “Opportunity Scholarship Program.”

A five-year voucher experiment established by Congress in 2004, the program is scheduled to end September 30, 2008, with good reason: it has yielded no evidence of a positive impact on student achievement, 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. We urge you to allow the DC voucher program end this fall as planned. Our nation’s capital needs real education reform — not vouchers — to ensure that no child gets left behind.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy