Congressional Democrats Target D.C. School Choice Program for Elimination

By Fred Lucas | February 24, 2009 | 7:00 PM EST

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) (AP Photo)

Washington ( – School choice advocates are trying to save the District of Columbia voucher program, which is targeted for virtual elimination in Congress’ proposed $405-billion omnibus spending bill. The school choice supporters think the termination of the D.C. program could have national significance.
“It would happen after the 2010 school year, and 1,715 kids would be affected if the program is killed,” said Virginia Walden Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, who spoke to a group of bloggers at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. “If they kill the D.C. Choice program, it will affect school choice programs all over the country.
The omnibus bill is to be voted on in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. If passed in its current form, it would prohibit any new students from receiving vouchers after the 2009-2010 school year, eliminating $18 million from the program.
That could put the decision in the hands of the D.C. City Council, where Ford does not sense there is support for the program.
Ford said her group is already organizing parents and children to go to Capitol Hill to voice support for the school choice operation.
“It’s incredible that a program that actually works for kids would be in this position,” Ford said. “I can’t imagine telling parents this program won’t exist after 2010.”