Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America applauded the U.S. Senate’s passage of the first federally funded school choice program. The program, approved as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed this afternoon by the Senate on a 65-28 vote, will create a school voucher pilot program in Washington, D.C.
The pilot program proposal — initiated by President Bush and endorsed by Democratic leaders of D.C., Mayor Williams, City Councilman Chavous and School Board President Cafritz – will provide $40 million in new funding for K-12 education in the District, a portion of which would be disbursed to low income families for tuition scholarships. The program is designed to empower parents by awarding scholarships of up to $7500 to those who qualify and desire to remove their child from a failing school.
Union President Harvey Blitz issued the following statement in connection with today’s Senate action:
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations has long been a supporter of school choice initiatives for they are in keeping with the fundamental Jewish teaching that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children. We applaud the leadership of President Bush who is clearly determined to improve the educational opportunities for all America’s children and we applaud Mayor Williams and other D.C. officials for their courageous leadership on this issue as well. We also applaud Democratic members of the Senate who placed the interests of children ahead of partisan politics by supporting this initiative.
Proponents of the D.C. school choice proposal recognize that policy decisions in the education arena must be made on the basis of the best interests of schoolchildren. We look forward to the implementation of this program, and the educational opportunities it will provide.