Last year’s budget compromise between Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner—the one that resurrected the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program—was quashed Monday in a single paragraph deep in the president’s proposed 2013 budget.
The president would provide no new funding for the OSP, proposing instead to use the money available in the program to provide vouchers to currently enrolled students through the 2013-14 school year—effectively capping the number of scholarships available at a time when demand is spiking. He then would redirect $60 million and divvy it among Washington’s charter schools as well as “the District’s efforts to transform its public education system.”
Despite the president’s long-held opposition to a scholarship program that has provided private school tuition assistance to more than 1,600 of D.C.’s most disadvantaged students, Obama found common ground with Boehner in April in order to avert a government shutdown and to preserve education initiatives favored by Democrats. “Life has been breathed into the voucher movement,” the Brookings Institution’s Grover J. Whitehurst said at the time.
Obama’s proposal shamefully sends it back to familiar territory during an election year.