Protest Over Schools In Washington DC: The Unions Are Failing

Tears welled up in Zed Yim’s eyes when she was asked where her son will go to school next year. “I have no idea,” she confided, before her emotions prevented her from saying any more.

Ms. Yim, along with 1400 D.C. schoolchildren, teachers, and parents rallied, yesterday in Freedom Park, just across from the White House, to protest the cancellation of the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) that provides school vouchers for 1700 disadvantaged D.C. youth. The Democratic Congress voted in a spending bill to defund the OSP earlier this year, thereby revoking the scholarships of kids like Zed’s son, Kassa, who currently attends Sacred Heart School in Northwest D.C.

By Joseph Lawler
The American Spectator
.
The rally, which featured speeches by former mayors Marion Barry and Anthony A. Williams as well as student and parent testimonials, drew students from OSP-participating schools all over D.C.. Neither Infinite Fields and Demarro Shavazz, scholarship recipients in the seventh grade at Bridges Academy, knew exactly who was responsible for ending their scholarship program, but their disappointment showed. Infinite called Bridges “fantastic,” and said that studying there had improved his academic career. Demarro added that he did not think it was fair to axe the program, because “not all the parents can pay.”

Donna Mebane, a teacher of literature and language arts at Bridges, explained that the OSP gives the kids an advantage. Bridges Academy’s advanced curriculum allows the kids to enter high school ahead of the curve. In her seventh grade literature class of nine children, all but one or two are OSP participants. The death of the OSP program “will hurt a lot of people,” she predicted. “It will definitely affect students.”

Another mother in attendance, Anquanette Williamson, has two sons, Dayonte and Donae, attending private schools through vouchers. “I don’t think it’s fair to the parents or the kids,” she said of the program’s demise. She explained that it was particularly disheartening for the program to end just as it began to benefit those who needed it the most. “I don’t want to be racist,” she said, “but that’s when they stopped [funding the program] — when us minorities found out about it.”

Although the rally’s attendees knew that they had been dealt a bad hand, none who spoke to TAS knew exactly where to assign the blame. Most blamed D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and the City Council for ending the OSP.

In fact, Fenty supports vouchers. OSP lost its funding at the federal level. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, added language to the $410 billion omnibus spending bill enacted on March 11 that cut off the $14 million for the….

Read the rest from the American Spectator:
http://spectator.org/archives/2009
/05/07/no-one-to-vouch-for-them

Related:
L.A. schools chief critical of unfit teachers ‘milking the system’

Protesters Blast Congress for Axing D.C. Vouchers While Sending Own Kids to Private School

Obama Opposes School Choice in Washington DC: But His Kids Have a Choice

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