January 7th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today denounced Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden for “ignoring the elimination of the D.C. school choice program from which thousands of disadvantaged D.C. students greatly benefited.”
In an ALG News exclusive video, Dr. Biden, while promoting a national education initiative on behalf of the Obama Administration at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School in Washington, D.C., said she had not “followed” the elimination of the popular program in 2009.
When asked if she supported the program’s elimination, Dr. Biden said, “You know, I really haven’t followed it.”
“I’ve been really busy,” she added.
Dr. Biden, a public school teacher and professor for more than 28 years and an adjunct professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College, has been a top spokesperson for the Obama Administration on education policy. It was the Obama Administration that abandoned the youth education program, despite polls showing that 75 percent of District residents supported it.
Wilson said it is “simply inexcusable that Dr. Biden, a prominent education policy spokesperson for the White House, is completely ignorant of the elimination of the D.C. school choice program. It was her boss who scuttled the program — while sending his own children to private schools, of course.”
Congress voted to eliminate funding for the program in 2009 in “The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009”, which was passed by the House on February 25th and by the Senate on March 10th, as reported by the Brookings Institution. Barack Obama actively supported the program’s elimination.
National Public Radio Senior Correspondent and Fox News commentator Juan Williams has called the elimination of the Opportunity Scholarship Program an “outrageous sin against our kids.”
“If there is one goal that deserves to be held above day-to-day partisanship and pettiness of ordinary politics it is the effort to end the scandalous poor level of academic achievement and abysmally high drop-out rates for America’s black and Hispanic students,” Williams wrote.
“By going along with Secretary Duncan’s plan to hollow out the D.C. voucher program this president, who has spoken so passionately about the importance of education, is playing rank politics with the education of poor children. It is an outrage,” Williams added.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) was established by the U.S. Congress in 2003 with the “D.C. School Choice Incentive Act.” According to the OSP website, the five year pilot program provided “genuine school choice for low-income families in the form of scholarships for children to attend K-12 non-public schools within the District’s boundaries. The maximum annual scholarship amount of $7,500 per child is available for families at or below 185% of the federal poverty level ($39,220 for a family of four).”
Wilson said that D.C. students, who attend some of the lowest-ranked public schools in the nation, “have been cheated out of the opportunity to receive a better education simply because the public education unions demanded the elimination of a very popular program, and they donate almost exclusively to Democrats.”
According to a Braun Research poll, 75 percent of District residents support the city’s federally funded school voucher program.
“Parents have a right to choose which school they want to send their children to, and Dr. Biden, a prominent education policy spokesperson for the White House, has not even taken the time to follow the elimination of a program that helped needy D.C. students to get a better education,” Wilson concluded.