Leaders of the DC School Choice movement issued this statement blasting the Democrats for the slow dismantling of the DC Opportunity Scholarship program:

“House and Senate Appropriators this week ignored the wishes of D.C.’s mayor, D.C.’s public schools chancellor, a majority of D.C.’s city council, and more than 70 percent of D.C. residents and have mandated the slow death of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. This successful school voucher program—for D.C.’s poorest families—has allowed more than 3,300 children to attend the best schools they have ever known.

The decision to end the program, a decision buried in a thousand-page spending bill and announced right before the holidays, destroys the hopes and dreams of thousands of D.C. families. Parents and children have rallied countless times over the past year in support of reauthorization and in favor of strengthening the OSP.

Yet, despite the clearly positive results and the proven success of this program, Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Jose Serrano, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Secretary Arne Duncan worked together to kill the OSP. Funding the program only for existing children shrinks the program each year, compromises the federal evaluation of the program, denies entry to the siblings of existing participants, and punishes those children waiting in line by sentencing them to failing and often unsafe schools.

What is incredibly disappointing to low-income families in Washington, D.C. has been the silence of President Barack Obama. The President, who benefited from K-12 scholarships himself, worked on behalf of low-income families in Chicago, and exercises school choice as a parent, has stood silently on the sidelines while his Secretary of Education belittled the importance of helping such a small number of children in the nation’s capital.

Now, the fate of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and the low-income children it serves and could serve depends on the willingness of Congressional supporters to insist that the FY 2010 budget allows additional children to participate in the OSP. We call on President Obama and Senator Durbin to stand up and do the right thing. Stand with the children of low-income families in Washington, D.C. who deserve access to a quality education right now—not five years from now—but right now. These children deserve that opportunity.”

Rep. David Obey wrote this into the 2009 Omnibus Bill that funded government for FY2009. After a large public outcry over this, they modified it to say that those children already getting scholarships would continue getting their scholarships through their graduation.

This is proof that the Democrats put a higher priority on collecting campaign contributions from the NEA than they put on helping minority children. This is a perfect example of ‘the machine’ at work. The children don’t have lobbyists. The NEA does. There’s no arguing who won that fight. The children didn’t stand a fighting chance.

The theme for Al Gore’s 2000 acceptance speech was the people vs. the powerful. In 2004, John Edwards’ campaign stump speech was about “the Two Americas”. Based on the Democrats’ ending the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, it’s obvious that the Democrats consistently side with powerful unions rather than with parents with underprivileged children.

It’s apparent that the Democratic Party hasn’t responded to the needs of DC’s children. Every Democrat that voted for the FY2009 Omnibus bill should be defeated in 2010, starting with Rep. Obey. Here’s a suggestion: Donate to Sean Duffy’s campaign. The sooner we defeat Rep. Obey, the better.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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