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Senate Republicans to Force Vote on School Choice for Washington's Poor Children
NewsMax ^ | 11/17/03

Posted on 11/17/2003 8:46:08 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection

Republican Senate leaders plan to force a vote this week on the nation's first federally funded school voucher experiment by tucking the program into broader spending legislation that would be politically difficult for Democrats to block.

The Senate proposal would allow a number of poor children in the District of Columbia, perhaps 1,700 or more of the 65,000 in the capitol's school system, to attend private school at public expense. Democrats stopped action on the bill early this year.

With the Senate working this week to finish business for the year, the GOP majority is moving to an expected approach: fold the voucher plan and the capital city budget into an enormous spending bill for education, agriculture, housing and many other areas. The move would likely force Democrats to accept vouchers or reject the budgets of entire agencies.

The strategy, confirmed by congressional aides and lobbyists familiar with House and Senate negotiations, is expected to lead to a vote by Friday.

Asked about the plan, a spokesman for Sen. Bill Frist would say only that the majority leader is keeping options open in passing the school-choice plan, one of his priorities.

The House already passed its version of the plan, and President Bush backs school choice, which means federally backed vouchers appear as likely as ever.

Still, Democrats are looking for ways to defeat the idea, including a challenge of the spending bill on procedural grounds. Other contentious measures beyond vouchers, including overtime pay, could add up to cast doubt over a clumped-together spending bill.

What Accountability Have Government Schools Had for the Past 40 Years?

Critics, who include the teachers unions and some school officials, say vouchers strip money from public schools and funnel it to private schools that face little accountability for improving achievement.

"The voucher proponents have been reduced to hiding vouchers into a large, omnibus spending package because they couldn't pass the matter in the Senate," said Joan Wodiska, lobbyist for National School Boards Association. "This shouldn't be railroaded into law."

Voucher advocates say the plan would be a limited but significant way of helping children in the capital's chronically struggling system of 167 schools and learning centers. Students' families would have to pay costs not covered by the maximum $7,500 voucher a year.

Still being negotiated are the size and terms of the voucher package, although it probably will resemble more closely the Senate version than the one passed in the House, sources familiar with the negotiations said. The Senate's $13 million voucher plan also includes $26 million for the district's cash-strapped public schools.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: voucher; vouchers

1 posted on 11/17/2003 8:46:08 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
It took the GOP how many years to figure this out? This should have been done several years ago. Oh well, better late then never.
2 posted on 11/17/2003 8:51:04 PM PST by Always Right
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
3 posted on 11/17/2003 8:52:00 PM PST by Consort
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To: Always Right
This is the only way that Public Schools will ever shape up and teach our kids. A teacher is not a teacher if the child does not learn. School choice for all kids.
4 posted on 11/17/2003 8:57:50 PM PST by ducks1944
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Republicans are forcing a vote? Oh please. Sorry folks, so tired of spineless actions when they should have every reason to be proud and strong.
5 posted on 11/17/2003 8:59:08 PM PST by Libertina
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Senate Dems need to go on record against the interests of poor black kids in failing schools in the one jurisdiction the Feds totally control in each and every election cycle. The stain must be continually reapplied to corpus of the whole lot virtually enslaved to the teachers' unions, so that it never fades, just as the paint on the Golden Gate bridge never fades due to same continual application.
6 posted on 11/17/2003 9:00:23 PM PST by Torie
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To: All
Besides the obvious policy benefits, the political is also good for our side.
It splits the dems
urban blacks back this by a huge margin
teacher unions hate this more than we do tax increases.
7 posted on 11/17/2003 9:53:11 PM PST by genghis
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