Betsy DeVos Reacts to Study on D.C. Voucher Program

May 2, 2017 by

The administration has promoted private-school scholarships as a means of empowering families. But they may undermine a child’s academic success.

Leah Askarinam –

The nation’s capital is the only city in the country where the federal government gives scholarships to underprivileged children to attend private schools. The goal of the voucher program, of course, is to help ensure low-income youth aren’t tethered to their often under-resourced and under-performing neighborhood schools.But a report released Thursday found largely negative results for students who participated in the District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, suggesting that many of the program’s beneficiaries might actually fare better if they turn down the private-school money.

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) compared test scores for two groups of students: students who, through a lottery process, were selected to receive vouchers, and students who applied for yet didn’t receive them. The study compared the progress of both groups of students from spring of 2012 to 2014 and found that, a year after they applied for the scholarship, math scores were lower for students who won vouchers. What’s more, after narrowing the pool of students down to those in kindergarten through fifth grade, both reading and math scores were lower for students who won vouchers.

While students’ shortcomings in test scores—especially in math—may complicate the Trump administration’s path to elevating voucher programs, the administration remains committed to fully funding vouchers and expanding access to similar options nationwide. President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would add $1.4 billion to school choice—which includes voucher programs and charter schools—with the goal of “ramping up to an annual total of $20 billion.” The proposed budget would also specifically allocate $250 million for “a new private school-choice program,” which likely would provide vouchers. Along with these major investments in school choice, the Department of Education as a whole would receive 13 percent less funding than last year, a reduction of $9 billion.

The release of the study Thursday gives Democratic lawmakers renewed ammo against the larger-scale voucher proposal. “When Secretary [Betsy] DeVos’s own Department’s independent research office tells her that siphoning taxpayer dollars into private schools has a negative impact on students, it’s time for her to finally abandon her reckless plans to privatize public schools across the country,” Democratic Senator Patty Murray, the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee, said in a statement. Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott, ranking member of the House Education and Workforce committee, said: “We know that these failed programs drain public schools of limited resources, only to deliver broken promises of academic success to parents and students. Congress must end this failed program and support the more than 90 percent of students nationwide who are enrolled in public schools.”

Source: Betsy DeVos Reacts to Study on D.C. Voucher Program – The Atlantic

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.