In 2009, Democrats quietly issued the death certificate for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program by slashing its budget on the way to phasing it out altogether. It is unheard of for Democrats to be so enthusiastic about cutting funding for anything other than the military, so this must have been a drastic case indeed to convince them that the program needed to go. So what was it that led to the decision to end the program? Was it because it was too expensive? Not by a long shot, and besides, when was the last time you’ve heard a Democrat argue for ending a program just because it costs too much? Was it because of underperformance? No, it actually performed quite well. If you guessed it was because Obama and the Democrats fell prostrate to their masters in the teachers unions, now you are making some progress.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was founded in 2004 and became wildly successful. The program provided $7500 scholarships to students so that they could attend private schools. For students of the D.C. Public School system, which is at the very top of the national list of worst-performing public schools, and in one of the most violent districts in the nation, this was a lifeline out of poverty, and a path to a brighter future. The scholarships allowed students, nearly all from low-income families, and the vast majority of them being minority children, to escape the prison system for children known as the D.C. Public Schools. The fact that minority children could take these scholarships and go to private schools was quite a bargain, considering that the public school system in D.C. was spending $18,000 per child per year, and still managing to turn out some the worst academically achieving children in the country. To give you an idea of how bad it was in the DCPSS, only 14% of 8th-graders attain proficiency at reading on their grade level.