One small program for kids, one big step for Mankind

Jeanne Allen Senior Fellow, Center for Education Reform
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A small D.C. program increases reading scores for the poorest children in Washington, ensures safety and increases parental satisfaction and thus their involvement in their child’s education.

Progress? It would be in any other nation, but to the leaders of the supposedly literate and advanced super power called the U.S., the program is merely a nuisance.

For almost six years now, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program has been a lifeline for nearly 2,000 students. It is supported by the urban minorities whose lives it has benefited, by most of their elected officials (when it was passed and still today), and by a unified bi-partisan cadre of business leaders. The program also enjoys the support of an enormous and growing number of local, state and national democrats whose party used to unite them solidly against such programs.

But when Harry (Reid) met Nancy (Pelosi) in Washington, the program’s fate changed. They have refused to allow new votes on the program, and together with the president, have colluded with teachers unions and related groups who believe all children should stay in the current public school system, no matter the price. They can now say they are for public education, and against ideas that might challenge what that notion actually means, regardless of outcome.

Nancy Pelosi should know better. Raised by Italians whose fates were often sealed by Catholic schools, her entire career rests on the back of her ancestors, who like mine, came to this country to find a better way and never settled for second best for their children.

And as the leadership of the Black Alliance for Educational Options made clear at their annual meeting in Milwaukee last week, the president himself should know better, having paid tribute to his grandmother over his lifetime for the sacrifices she made to ensure he was well educated and to prepare him to be the leader of the free world today.

Parents are their child’s first teachers. Progress was made when D.C., like several other states, finally offered at least some measure of choice allowing parents to engage in an educational process  taken over by a large and bloated bureaucracy many, many years ago.

One small, successful program is on life support, while almost $5 billion is being readied for traditional school programs that have long outlived their usefulness.

This one small program should be one big program, and would be one big step for mankind. If only.

Jeanne Allen, the founder and president of The Center for Education Reform (CER), is one of America’s leading authorities on charter schools, school choice, teacher quality, and accountability. A mother of four, Jeanne is the author of “The School Reform Handbook: How to Improve Your Schools.”