Legislation Restoring School Choice for Low-Income DC Students Passed by the House

Press Release

Date: April 1, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Despite having a rate of spending per student higher than any state, the public education system in the District of Columbia remains one of the poorest-performing in the country. In 2003, Congress passed a law to help ensure D.C. children have the opportunity to receive a quality education by creating the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which provides vouchers for eligible low-income D.C. parents to send their children to a private school of their choosing. The law also provided federal support in the form of direct payments to the city's traditional school system and charter schools. After several successful years, the OSP was closed to new students in 2009 however federal payments continue to be allocated for DC public and charter schools and previously enrolled OSP participants. This week the House passed legislation to revive and expand the OSP through 2016. The bill retains the three sector approach, authorizing $60 million each year through 2016 to be shared equally among the scholarship program, D.C. public schools, and charter schools. In keeping with the House Republican pledge to reduce spending, the bill's authorization represents a $15 million reduction from current federal funding levels for DC schools. Congressman Miller is pleased that the bill was passed by the House, and hopes for its quick enactment into law to restore educational choice for the neediest families in the District.