D.C. Vouchers Don’t Reach Neediest Kids, Says Study

A federally funded school voucher program in the District of Columbia, touted as a way for poor kids in failing schools to gain access to better education, is doing more for students already attending private schools, according to federal documents.

The U.S. Department of Education released a report in early April showing that students already in D.C. private schools received a larger share of vouchers awarded under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. According to the department’s documents, 433 students from schools deemed in need of improvement under the act were awarded vouchers to attend private schools in the District, the Associated Press reported. That number represented 30 percent of the vouchers awarded.

Forty-three percent of the vouchers went to students already attending private schools. More than half of the District’s private schools participating in the voucher program are affiliated with the Catholic Church.

Roxanne Evans, a spokeswoman for D.C. public schools, decried the findings.

“Parents whose students are already (in private school) want public assistance to help their students remain there,” Evans said. “That’s one of the tragedies of vouchers – that private school students use public money to fund private education.”

The Washington Scholarship Fund, which administers the program, claimed that figures for the coming year would show an increase in the number of needy students receiving vouchers.