School choice advocates, already trying to pressure the White House to reverse an end to school vouchers in the District, are planning to block the entrance of the U.S. Department of Education headquarters starting at 9:30 a.m. this morning.
Former Council member Kevin P. Chavous is leading the effort to bring attention to 216 low-income students who could not enter their private and parochial schools this week because President Barack Obama's education spending plan cut funds to the controversial program.
Earlier this year, Obama compromised by extending the program to allow 1,716 students currently enrolled in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program to graduate. But the compromise nixed scholarships to new students, affecting 216 poised to enter this fall.
The protest, which a news release said would include Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), comes on the same day of Obama's controversial speech to high school students. "President Obama plans to speak to America's schoolchildren through a televised address on Tuesday afternoon," Chavous said in the release. "Now, he owes it to the families of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program recipients -- as well as to the 216 children who saw their scholarships revoked by the Education Department -- to answer important questions about the futures of these children and many others."
The issue of school vouchers frequently has separated Democrats who represent urban communities from the party. The scholarship program was created by Republicans. Parents have seen the program as alternative to failing public schools.
Virginia Walden Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, said in the release that "the way this Administration has treated these children is deplorable."
-- Nikita Stewart