NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 12, 2008

Democrats in Congress have finally found a federal program they want to eliminate: the four-year-old Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.  This is one that actually works and helps thousands of poor children, says the Wall Street Journal.

The fight to eliminate this program has nothing to do with saving money, but a lot to do with election year politics, says the Journal.  The teachers unions have put out the word to Congress that they want all vouchers for private schools that compete with their monopoly system shut down.  Unions are afraid the voucher program will succeed, and show that there is a genuine alternative to the national scandal that are most inner-city public schools, says the Journal.


  • The Opportunity Scholarship Program provides vouchers to about 2,000 low-income children so they can attend religious or other private schools.
  • More than 80 percent of the voucher recipients are black and most of the rest Hispanic; their average income is about $23,000 a year.
  • The budget for the experimental program is $18 million, or about what the U.S. Department of Education spends every hour and a half.
  • The $18 million allocated to the program does not come out of the District school budget; Congress appropriates extra money for the vouchers.


  • The $7,500 voucher per child is a bargain for taxpayers because it costs the public schools about 50 percent more, or $13,000 a year, to educate a child in the public schools.
  • D.C. schools are among the worst in the nation; in 2007, D.C. public schools ranked last in math scores and second-to-last in reading scores for all urban public school systems on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
  • More than 90 percent of the families express high satisfaction with the program, according to researchers at Georgetown University.

Source: Editorial, "Putting Children Last," the Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2008.

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