According to a 2013 Census Bureau report, DC schools are among the top three states or state-equivalents that spend the most money per student. One would think that DC’s robust culture and accessibility to educational venues would provide the perfect atmosphere in which a student would thrive. Unfortunately, last year, DC schools ranked last in the nation for education. This goes to show that something is terribly wrong with the educational system. Congress continues to work on a solution for this problem.
In 2011, Congress passed H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) sponsored by Speaker Boehner, which provides funding for vouchers and public schools. This program allows for low-income families to choose a different school, including qualified private and parochial schools, while public schools improve. Since the enactment of this program, DC students have significantly improved their math and reading scores. Those who have participated in the program have had higher graduation rates compared to those in DC public schools. This proves that parents and families are more qualified to select the best place of education for their student and that placing a child in a school based on their zip code is an antiquated method.
Even though the SOAR Act expires at the end of the fiscal year of 2016, Speaker Boehner has put the legislation back on the table to ensure its reauthorization for an additional five years. Despite opposition from the left, this legislation has passed the House and is moving forward in the Senate. Another five years of this program could be a game-changer for DC students.