D.C. Parents Protest End to School Vouchers

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WASHINGTON - While President Obama was just outside Washington, D.C., Tuesday, telling kids to stay in school, inside the city protestors were accusing him of hypocrisy.
They are upset over Obama's decision to end D.C.'s school voucher program-- a decision opponents claim has endangered the education of hundreds of students.

Kevin Chavous of Democrats for Education Reform called it "shameful that they want to shut this program down."

One of the first decisions of President Obama's Education Department was to shut out a new group of students from a voucher-like program. It would have let them escape D.C.'s often failing public schools.
Demonstrators were willing to risk arrest Tuesday to protest the administration's move.

A number of education reform leaders came to the Department of Education to block the entrance in what they call the first "school choice-related act of civil disobedience."

The protesters blocked the door for a few minutes, but authorities decided not to arrest them.
The program they want fully restored gave D.C. parents $7,500 a year to put their children in more successful schools.  That dream, however, is over for 216 D.C.-area students whose scholarships have been revoked.

"The schools they're ending up going to have a proficiency rating of 30 percent," Chavous said. "That means 70 percent of those students in those schools are failing."

Latasha Bennett's son still has his scholarship, but her daughter's has been revoked.
Bennett said she and other D.C. parents will not give up this fight for their children.

"To deprive her of a school that I chose that is excelling and to want me to put her into these failing D.C. public schools won't happen," she said. "It means that they're pulling my family apart." 

The pro-school choice protestors worry what precedent this sets for the rest of the country.

Darrell Allison of Parents for Education Freedom in North Carolina described Washington, D.C.'s influence.

"Oftentimes what happens in D.C. has real impact in what the other 50 states does," he said. "So we're not just talking about the families here in D.C., but this could send a strong message throughout our nation."

Virginia Walden Ford of D.C. Parents for School Choice said "everybody looks to Washington."

"This is a Federal program and certainly people are going to be watching to see how it ends," she added.

Some suspect the Education Department is turning its back on this program because the administration is so beholden to powerful teachers' unions that don't want support going outside the public school system.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.