In a post today via Heritage.org's The Foundry, Congressman Joe Walsh challenged lawmakers to put students first, urging his peers to pass H.R. 471 (SOAR ACT) which would restore the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (an initiative that has awarded over 3,000 scholarships in D.C. allowing low income students the opportunity to attend better performing schools.)
Although the bill has seen strong backing from Republicans and is expected to easily pass the House, the legislation faces significant opposition from President Obama (in 2009 the Administration and congressional Democrats eliminated funding for the initial program), who yesterday commented in a statement that:
The Federal Government should focus its attention and available resources on improving the quality of public schools for all students. Private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement. The Administration strongly opposes expanding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and opening it to new students.
As the House of Representatives prepares to vote today to reauthorize the program, here's a look at what Congressman Walsh had to say in favor of the SOAR Act:
With 74 percent of D.C. residents supporting the program, its reauthorization should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the teachers unions, which tend to be more interested in protecting their benefits than in educating our children, are spending millions of dollars trying to bury this program permanently.
Many politicians, primarily Democrats, are being pressured by these teachers unions to oppose the bill. They know that school choice is just like the free market. Monopoly breeds mediocrity, and competition drives success. By introducing the pressures and incentives of the marketplace into education, currently failing schools will have to work harder to find innovative ways to help students succeed. It means the status quo just won’t cut it anymore — teachers in those schools are going to have to work harder to help their students succeed. Most importantly, the opponents of empowering parents know that if we continue to show giving parents this power works in D.C., it will be demanded in every city around the country. That’s what scares the teachers unions the most. That’s why they want to kill this program.
This isn’t about politics. This is about our kids. About giving future generations the education they will need to lead our great country into the future.
Congressman Walsh's full piece can be viewed here