June 18 2012

Obama’s Education Department Begrudgingly Implements Law

Lori Drummer

When the Obama Administration loses a legislative fight, they take one of two courses of action: 1) overstep federal regulatory authority and implement divisive policies against the will of the American people; or 2) enforce (or choose not to enforce) only selected laws or sections of laws, regardless of the actual letter of the law. 

Finally at least one of these “selective enforcement” decisions has been ceased.  At least we hope.

According to Speaker John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman, the Administration has (finally!) committed to fully implement the Washington, DC, Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP).

Enacted in 2004, the program was a lifeline for up to 1,700 children per school year, but the teachers unions fought the program every step of the way.  In 2008, the Democratic-controlled Congress and President Obama phased out funding for DC OSP, in hopes to suffocate the program to an inevitable death. 

In 2011, under the leadership of Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman, Congress revived the voucher program to help low-income children attend private schools in the District of Columbia, and President Obama signed the measure into law. 

Then Obama Administration officials arbitrarily decided not to fund the program, despite the law and the associated budget.  The stalemate continued for several months until the Boehner-Lieberman announcement today that the Administration finally decided to execute the law. 

Highlights include: 1) no student enrollment caps on DC OSP participation; 2) currently enrolled students can reapply for scholarships for next year; and 3) new families can apply for scholarships. 

All of these “highlights” have been law for months. 

What power authorized the Administration to selectively decide to not implement the law?  Who knows.  What’s ultimately important here is that students in desperate need for a high quality education will have access to schools that will meet their needs. 

Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman should be commended for helping low-income parents make the best decisions for their children – just like the decision the Obamas made on behalf of their daughters when they chose elite Sidwell Friends over their DC-assigned public school. 

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