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house Bill H.R. 4901

Reauthorizing the DC School Choice Scholarship Program

Argument in favor

The DC school choice program has helped many young people obtain a better education than they would’ve received in its absence. This program must be reauthorized, as failing to do so could cause students to have to transfer back to a lower-performing school.

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05/30/2016
Providing scholarships for school choice programs is no different than providing the same service to college students, without discriminating against them for their choice of where th go to school. I support this legislation and propose it as a national model.
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Alis's Opinion
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04/29/2016
Could we avoid victimizing DC residents any further? It is bad enough that a bunch of detached racist old white guys have a say over the mostly African American citizens of DC! Let people choose the school to which they want to send their children.
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AndrewGVN's Opinion
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04/29/2016
People should have the right to choose what school to go to. We shouldn't be "zoned" into schools that we must go into, even though the person might not believe that school doesn't offer the best education possible in the area.
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Argument opposed

Students should either go to their local public school or pay their own way to go to a private school without scholarship assistance. The federal government doesn’t need to provide scholarships to these students and their families.

GrumpyMSgt's Opinion
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04/30/2016
The politicians answer to education problems.....throw piles of cash on it. Has never worked, never will! Let the district solve their own problems like every other metropolitan area.
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operaman's Opinion
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04/29/2016
This is a Bill that looks very promising to achieving student. Sucks them into hope of a future and then leaves their schools unfunded. Now the student faces going back to public schools with crime and teachers wishing they were good enough to find a position in a private school. This is a great example of why our government should be out of the education business. Local schools needs to be addressed locally. If students fail to learn, show them a trade. Public schools have become "baby sitters" durning the day. Many of our public have failed after getting involved with Big Government who set standards for students but not for teachers. We have to rip the band-aid off public education.
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Jim2423's Opinion
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04/29/2016
We don't get scholarship to go to elementary schools. You go to public or pay to go to private schools.
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What is House Bill H.R. 4901?

This bill would prohibit the Dept. of Education from limiting the number of eligible students receiving District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) scholarships while reauthorizing the program through 2021. It would be reformed so as to focus on serving students at the lowest performing DC elementary and secondary schools. The Dept. of Education would also be blocked from preventing otherwise eligible students from participating because of:

  • The type of school the student previously attended;

  • Whether or not the individual previously received the scholarship or participated in OSP, or was a member of the control group used by the Institute of Education Sciences to carry out previous OSP evaluations.

Priorities for the award of scholarships to eligible students would be modified to give priority to students who:

  • In the preceding school year attended a school identified as a low-achieving school to the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE);

  • Certain students regardless of whether they have attended a private school.

OSP-participating schools must:

  • Conduct criminal background checks on school employees who have direct and unsupervised interactions with students;

  • Comply with all requests for data and information regarding certain reporting requirements.

Private schools that are participating in OSP must be accredited or in the process of seeking accreditation.

The Dept. of Education must make OSP funds available to eligible entities receiving a grant for administrative expenses and parental education and assistance, including a streamlining of the application process.

Previously unobligated OSP funds must be used to award new scholarships to students. The Dept. of Education may withhold specified OSP funds provided to the DC Mayor for DC public and charter schools for noncompliance with SOAR requirements.

Funds made available to support DC charter schools could be directed to the OSSE, which may transfer them to subgrantees that are:

  • Specific DC public charter schools in good standing or networks of such schools;

  • DC-based non-profit organizations with experience in successfully providing support or assistance to such schools or networks.

The Dept. of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) would be required to a replace the requirement for a grade appropriate, national norm-referenced standardized test with a test used by DC public schools for students using an opportunity scholarship. The testing would occur in grades three through eight, in addition to one high school grade. The test wouldn’t assess OSP success in increasing parental involvement in their student’s education, but would include the following:

  • A comparison of the academic achievement of participating students to those students with similar backgrounds in DC public schools;

  • A comparison of the college enrollment, persistence, and graduation rates of students who participated in the program after winning a lottery with those who didn’t and were in a control group;

  • An assessment of student academic achievement at participating schools in which 85 percent of the total number of students enrolled at the school receive and use an opportunity scholarship.

Impact

DC students and their families, schools, OSSE, and the Dept. of Education.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4901

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost $300 million over the 2017-2021 period, or $60 million per year.

More Information

In-Depth: After an earlier version of this legislation was passed by the House in October 2015, the sponsor of this version — Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) — praised the positive impact school choice has had on education in the District of Columbia:

“Today’s vote is a win for DC students who desire and deserve a quality education. By providing equal federal funds to DC public schools, DC public charter schools, and the Opportunity Scholarship Program, all DC children gain greater access to a quality education.”

After this bill’s predecessor passed the House on a 240-191 vote it stalled in the Senate, prompting lawmakers to make slight modifications and reintroduce it in this form. It had been opposed by the National Education Association and a coalition led by the ACLU on the grounds that private schools which aren’t subject to certain rules that cover public schools would receive taxpayer dollars.

Despite misgivings over the issue of private schools receiving public funding through the OSP voucher program, the Obama administration has said the president wouldn’t veto this bill if it reached his desk so as to avoid disrupting the education of students in the program.

This legislation was passed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on a voice vote. It has the support of 16 cosponsors, all but one of whom are Republicans.



Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Roman Mager via Unsplash)

AKA

Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization Act

Official Title

To reauthorize the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed April 29th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 224 Yea / 181 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedApril 12th, 2016

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    This is a Bill that looks very promising to achieving student. Sucks them into hope of a future and then leaves their schools unfunded. Now the student faces going back to public schools with crime and teachers wishing they were good enough to find a position in a private school. This is a great example of why our government should be out of the education business. Local schools needs to be addressed locally. If students fail to learn, show them a trade. Public schools have become "baby sitters" durning the day. Many of our public have failed after getting involved with Big Government who set standards for students but not for teachers. We have to rip the band-aid off public education.
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    The politicians answer to education problems.....throw piles of cash on it. Has never worked, never will! Let the district solve their own problems like every other metropolitan area.
    Like (5)
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    We don't get scholarship to go to elementary schools. You go to public or pay to go to private schools.
    Like (5)
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    No federal handouts. They can pay for it themselves or get private scholarships.
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    School choice is like a band-aid on a bullet hole. It does very little good for very few people. The debate on school choice is just a distraction from truly dealing with the issues in our educational system.
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    The federal government should not be involved with or subsidizing local education.
    Like (2)
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    More government sticking it's nose where it does not belong
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    Wait a minute. The federal government can use public funds for private schools while banning states and municipalities from doing the same? Oops! What was I thinking? Of course! Federal government = HYPOCRISY!
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    The program siphons funds from public education in DC. It costs more per pupil than public education. It does not provide students with a better education, as measured by standard tests. It should die the death it deserves.
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    Providing scholarships for school choice programs is no different than providing the same service to college students, without discriminating against them for their choice of where th go to school. I support this legislation and propose it as a national model.
    Like (2)
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    I have mixed feelings about this. First of all, when I was growing up, if you wanted to attend a private school, your parents had to foot the bill or you had to work part time after school to help pay your way through school. My older son put himself through two years of junior college on a work-study program! Secondly, thank God we didn't have Common Core!! The federal government has turned the public school system, like our military, into social engineering Petri dishes and indoctrination centers. And teachers have had their hands tied when it comes to disciplining unruly students. OTOH, I'm reading far too many accounts of teachers becoming sexually involved with one or more students or trying to force their own agendas on their classes at the expense of the rights of the students! In short, our education system is a mess, AFAICS. I think the federal government needs to leave the education of our children to the states and local governments. Quit trying to reinvent the wheel! Teach kids shop and/or home economics or other real world skills and stop punishing them for stupid stuff like cutting their pop tarts in the shape of a gun! AND LEAVE SEX EDUCATION WHERE IT BELONGS - IN THE HANDS OF THE PARENTS! Biology is one thing, but gender and sex issues involving morality and religious beliefs are another, and the schools have no right to impose their views on students whose families might have different beliefs. End of rant :-)
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    If DC needs this, then every other public school district needs and deserves this.
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    I thought everyone was equal in the United States. There is no way the liberal government can make everyone the same. Everyone is in a different situation in life. We all cannot be in the same situation, make the same amount of money, and have the same things...It is impossible.
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    After paying for our children's schooling and paying our property and other taxes to fund public schools, I advocate for parents to have the freedom to choose their school for their children. Washington, DC, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago,any public schoolin California, and the list goes on are failing to even the most rudimentary levels of learning for the bulk of yheir students. Success of a student is an anomaly, but the majority "know" they are victims of someone else's privilege. It is a shameful what public education has become.
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    People should have the right to choose what school to go to. We shouldn't be "zoned" into schools that we must go into, even though the person might not believe that school doesn't offer the best education possible in the area.
    Like (1)
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    Could we avoid victimizing DC residents any further? It is bad enough that a bunch of detached racist old white guys have a say over the mostly African American citizens of DC! Let people choose the school to which they want to send their children.
    Like (1)
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    The DC voucher program was ended by President Obama and resulted in throwing many poor (and largely black) children back into failing DC public schools. The vouchers were the best hope for some of these families to break the generational dependency with their children gaining a great education. Of course, people helping themselves and becoming independent hurts the Democratic Party. No 'victims' no votes. Can't let that happen. Better to keep them in failing schools run by corrupt unions preventing good teachers from doing their jobs. That way the drop out rates stay high and the few that do make it through haven't learned anything that prepares them for good paying jobs.
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    And people wonder why the nation is so low on education. Do you think people in Korea or Finland have to worry about this? If this bill won't get passed you will continue to see a decrease in educational performance across America.
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    Education is essential to the perseverance of this country and should be a priority for policymakers. We should be finding more ways to enroll and enrich students than limiting them.
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    Private schools should not be entitled for this funding.
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