Adding to the number of policy failures under the Obama administration is a report finding the “billions” spent on education had “no impact” upon American students.
Long before the Obama era began, GOP lawmakers, under George W. Bush, established the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, a voucher system for economically disadvantaged students in our nation’s capital – mostly minority students.
Despite incredible gains – wherein participants outscored their traditionally-schooled counterparts by every measure – the Obama administration pulled the plug on the very students it claimed to care about, plunging these students back into a broken system sustained by taxpayer money for decades.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Education Department has released a study solidifying what most of us already knew: inner city children mired in Democrat controlled school districts — catering to the demands of teacher’s unions — plowed through billions of dollars with nothing to show for it.
As Fox News reported:
“SIG was first funded in 2007, receiving $616 million under Bush.
But it wasn’t until 2009, when the Obama administration designated $3.5 billion to the program through the stimulus, that funding soared. The administration continued to pump more than $500 million annually to the program for the rest of his presidency.
The report, though, focused on data from nearly 500 schools in 22 states that received SIG funding, and concluded the program had “no significant impact” on reading or math test scores; high school graduation; or college enrollment.
“Overall, we found that the SIG program had no impact on student achievement,” co-author of the report Lisa Dragoset told Fox News.”
With the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary – a champion of school choice – perhaps true reform can move forward.
The article goes on to say:
“DeVos’ career has been trying to answer these questions differently than SIG – Betsy’s approach is to empower the low-income families by pumping resources to expand the number of schools available so that the families can have the option of school choice,” he said.
Charter schools, at the heart of the school choice movement, are publicly funded schools run by independent groups. President Trump has suggested pumping an additional $20 billion into school choice — with the funds redirected from existing federal accounts.
The Trump/DeVos approach faces scrutiny from some Democrats, who chided DeVos during her confirmation hearing and suggested charter schools are held to a different standard.
“There are times when it appears that charter schools are used as a wedge to attack public education, and the signals of that tend to be that failing charter schools are protected compared to failing public schools,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said in the hearing. “The standards really aren’t there.”
But the research is.
Done right, the OSP could have saved money while improving student outcomes. Despite spending nearly $30,000 per pupil in recent years, D.C.’s district schools are consistently ranked among the worst in the nation. By contrast, the OSP’s vouchers are less than $9,000 on average and a random-assignment study found that OSP students were 21 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than the control group.
It’s ironic to note this scathing indictment of the Obama era’s spending spree should come during National School Choice Week. ‘Nuff said.
[Note: This post was written by Marie Stroughter. Follow her on Twitter @MarieStroughter]