The Washington Post yesterday added to its long list of editorials and columns in support of Washington, D.C.’s controversial school voucher plan.
The newspaper seems to have an obsession with keeping the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program alive, despite knowing that the program has shown no improvement in student performance, lacks accountability, hurts public schools and subsidizes religious education with taxpayer funds.
The federally funded program was supposed to expire last year, after serving as a five-year pilot program. President Barack Obama proposed only to continue funding the plan for students already in the program until they graduate and Congress has allocated just enough money to fund the current students for another year.
Americans United celebrated this as a victory not too long ago. But The Post still won’t give it a rest.
Yesterday, in his op-ed, Fred Hiatt asked why President Obama would “kill off” the program before we can find out if the program even works. He said he accepts that the program won’t solve the whole problem, but he wants the federal government to “robustly” fund it anyway – just to see if it could work if we threw enough money at it.
“But even if you're inclined against vouchers, he writes, “why not embrace a program that has a chance to shed real light on the long-running, fraught and inconclusive argument about their effectiveness? The D.C. program was established to provide such evidence. It enrolled a control group of children who applied for vouchers but didn't get them, and it is following them along with the kids with vouchers. In a couple more years, if funded robustly, it would give us a real sense of what worked and what didn't. That could be helpful to lots of children.”
It appears Hiatt hasn’t read up too much on vouchers. If he had, he would know there is no need to waste anymore time on the D.C. program. His own newspaper has published articles reporting on studies that showed voucher students attending private schools in Washington, D.C., are performing the same on reading and math tests as students who have remained in the public school system.
And if he had dug a little deeper, he would have seen additional studies that have been conducted on voucher programs operating in Milwaukee and Cleveland pointing to the same result.
AU has tirelessly worked behind the scenes to end this unwise program in D.C. We’ve told Congress and the president that the voucher program has been detrimental to the education of students in the nation’s capital.
We’ve also reminded the public repeatedly that the federal government should be funding the public schools, not funneling taxpayer funds to private and religious schools that lack accountability, religious liberty and civil rights standards.
Five years has been more than enough to assess the effect of vouchers. Unlike Hiatt, AU has done its research. It's time that The Post accept that and admit that the D.C. voucher plan, like all other voucher programs, fails to deliver.