AFC Applauds Congressional Action giving DC’s low-income kids greater educational opportunity
Continuing Resolution Requires Immediate Release of Previously Appropriated Funds for DC OSP
The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, applauds congressional supporters of the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) for including language in the continuing resolution that compels the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to immediately release previously appropriated funds.
“For the past several years, the DOE has refused to release previously appropriated funds that Congress intended to be used for DC OSP scholarships,” said John Schilling, AFC’s Chief Operating Officer. “The Department’s refusal to release these funds, despite congressional intent, denied most new applicants – including siblings of current participants – the chance to enter the program.”
The Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is now in its 12th year serving the city’s most disadvantaged students. Nearly 6,500 children from low-income District families have been awarded scholarships since the program began in 2004-2005. More than 18,500 have applied for scholarships. The average income for participating families is less than $22,000 per year and 97 percent of participating children are minority.
Graduation rates for DC OSP students are nearly 30 points higher than D.C. public schools. Recent data compiled by the program administrator shows a 2015-2016 graduation rate of 98 percent. 86 percent of these students were accepted into a 2-or-4 year college with 5 percent entering the military or technical school, while 3 percent had been awaiting college acceptance.
“Release of these previously appropriated funds sends a powerful message that Congress and the incoming Trump-Pence Administration will fight to give every child, regardless of their family income or ZIP code, access to a quality education,” Schilling said. “We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration early in 2017 to complete reauthorization of the OSP and identify ways to complement what states are doing all across America to expand educational options for parents.”