DC Voucher Plan OK’d By Senate Appropriations Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 4, 2003

Contact: Tarek Rizk or Nathan Richter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Pro-public school advocates vow to continue fight in House, full Senate

The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the Bush administration’s plan to create a publicly funded voucher program for the District of Columbia public schools. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said public education and civil rights advocates would continue to fight the voucher bill in the House of Representatives, where there is significant bipartisan opposition to the plan, and on the floor of the Senate. “While this vote is a setback, I do not believe this voucher proposal will become law,” said Neas.

“It is disappointing that the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to impose a school voucher program on the District of Columbia,” said Neas, “even though D.C. voters soundly rejected vouchers at the ballot box, as have the citizens of every state who have been given a chance to vote on vouchers.”

“While some D.C. schools continue to struggle, the school system is making strides in academic improvement, and D.C. students and parents have choices guaranteed by one of the nation’s most extensive public charter school programs,” said Neas. “By contrast, a number of studies, including those conducted by the Government Accounting Office, have shown that existing voucher programs have made no meaningful contribution to strengthening student achievement. It makes no sense to take millions of taxpayer dollars that could have been used to support and strengthen proven reforms and divert them into an experiment that has not been successful. This is an example of ideology trumping sound policy.”