President Obama has said numerous times over the past few years that education is a main focus for him and his presidency. Unfotunately, his actions since obtaining office have put the lie to that claim.
Last year he when he signed the omnibus spending bill, he also signed on to cut off funding for the Opportunity Scholarship Program in Washington, DC, forcing approximately 1,700 DC students back to the horrible public school system.
Under OSP, hundreds of children were given vouchers to escape the public schools to go to the private school of their choice. The democrat's attempt to end the program was met with a backlash from parents and Republicans (who passed the program in 2004 under Bush) and they were forced to compromise - all current recipients would be allowed to finish high school, but no more new scholarshiips would be awarded. Unfortunately, even that promise had an expiration date. Obama has done what this administration seems to always do - snuck it through the back door. He has included the demolition of the program in his 2011 budget by slashing funding yet again and refusing any funding at all after 2011.
The program, started under Bush in 2004, was wildly successful. Mostly minority children were given the opportunity to thrive and learn, and they took it and made the most of it. Dropout rates for OSP recipients were minimal, as opposed to their public school peers. The number of OSP children who went on to college was also impressive in comparison to their peers. Best of all, where it costs around $18,000 per year to send a child to the horrific DC public schools, the vouchers only cost the district $7,500. Parents liked the program, children thrived, reading scores improved, and it was cost effective, but still the democrats cut the program.
For me, the main theory is that unions opposed the program because it was taking children (and thus tax dollars) from the union controlled public schools and putting them in non-union controlled private schools. It's all about the money, like most things in the liberal agenda.
What kills me is that liberals are always talking about conservatives holding down the black community, but when it comes to actions, they are really the ones who are relegating them to lives spent in subpar schools, dangerous communities and wasted potential. They are relegating those children to lives of poverty, living off the largesse of the government's entitlement programs.
(On a quick sidebar, I saw Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) talking about the success of the stimulus bill and how the new jobs bill will serve the same purpose. He was touting the additional food stamps, increases in Medicaid spending and extended unemployment handed out by the two bills. Hey Ed, if the 'jobs' bills actually created jobs, people wouldn't need food stamps, unemployment and Medicaid. You know, because they'd have ...jobs?)
Obama vowed that his Education Secretary Arnie Duncan would work for the best interests of all children in his speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in March 2009:
“Secretary Duncan will use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It's not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works.”
This program works, Mr. President, so why are you pulling the rug out from under all of those kids?
For all their talk of a 'hand up, not a handout', democrats sure don't put their money where their mouths are.