DC Vouchers: The Point Is, They Don’t Work.

December 8, 2009

Jose E Serrano (D-NY), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government, recently wrote an editorial in the Washington Post regarding the District of Columbia's school voucher program. His main argument is that voucher programs are the business of local and/or state government, not Congress, and points out that citizens of the District have little political discourse to change Congressional actions regarding them. He also feels that government money should not be used to send children to private schools.

Serrano certainly makes a valid, strong argument, but he fails to address the crux of the school voucher issue. Simply put, voucher systems do not work. Even the national government supports this view; according to the US Department of Education's annual evaluations of the voucher program, The highest priority group, students from so-called Schools In Need of Improvement (SINI) "did not experience achievement impacts" and showed no signs of "being more satisfied or feeling safer than those who were not offered scholarships." 1 Add to that a lack of accountability as reported by the Government Accountability Office 2 and an underrepresentation of students with physical or learning disabilities 3 , and you have the recipe for one incredibly inefficient, fiscally irresponsible program that once again fails to find real solutions to improving education in this country. Congress, along with state and local governments, would do well to invest their money in programs that have been proven effective. It's time to stop avoiding the issue and fix the horrible inequalities within the public school system instead of sending them to private schools through ineffective programs.

1. U.S. Dep't of Education, Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After Three Years, https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=NCEE20094050
2. US Gov't Accountability Office, District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program: Additional Policies and Procedures Would Improve Internal Controls and Program Operations, Pub. No. 08-9 at 26 (Nov. 2007) (GAO Report), https://www.gao.gov/new.items/d089.pdf.
3. GAO Report at 30

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