November 19, 2012 at 17:03 PM EST
American Federation for Children Reinforces Support for D.C. Voucher Program

High-quality scholarship program has seven year record of positive results

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Federation for Children—the nation's voice for educational choice—today reinforced its strong support for the highly-successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, noting that the nation's only federally-funded voucher program continues to serve as a model for funding what works in education.

Kevin P. Chavous (D), senior advisor to the Federation who is also a former D.C. City Councilman, was integral in working with former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D) in urging Congress pass legislation to create the program in 2004.  He reinforced the program's quality and record of success.

"This program has offered a lifeline to thousands of low-income District families whose children would otherwise be trapped in an educational setting that didn't suit their needs," Chavous said. "Thanks to this program, more students are attending safe schooling environments that their parents love, they're doing better in the classroom, and they're graduating and going to college. The program is also among the most scrutinized programs ever and yet its quality, transparency, and results continue to drive demand and produce positive results for kids."  

According to a 2010 study from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, participants in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program graduate from high school at a rate of 91 percent, more than 30 percentage points higher than students in D.C. public schools. Voucher participants also showed improved reading scores, and a survey last year of parents with students in the program revealed that 92 percent of them are satisfied with their child's school.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program serves those children most in need—the average family income is $24,000 per year—and also complies with a host of federally-mandated accountability requirements.

Chavous called on critics to cease distorting the record of the D.C. program and instead support a proven reform that is benefiting children from low-income families.

"It's shameful for perpetuators of the educational status quo to disregard the long list of accountability measures present in the program and its improvement of students' reading scores, and to downplay the importance of increased graduation rates," Chavous said. "In D.C. and across the country, accountability has become a hallmark of high quality private school choice programs, and we should be thankful that quality schools—regardless of whether they're private, public, Catholic, or charter—are growing more present in the lives of the children who need these options most."

Chavous said that in places like D.C., Louisiana, Florida, Indiana, and elsewhere, lawmakers have put additional emphasis on making programs accountable and demonstrating that they are contributing positively to the educational outcomes of participating students.

"It's fundamental that all high-quality educational choices exhibit strong accountability, and that's already the case in states across the country that have seen the largest expansions in recent years," Chavous said. "It's good for the public, parents, and kids."

SOURCE American Federation for Children

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