What: All Issues : Education, Humanities, & the Arts : Funding for Vouchers for Private Schools : H.R. 2765. Fiscal 2004 District of Columbia Appropriations/Vote to Create a $10 Million Private School Voucher Program in DC. (2003 house Roll Call 478)
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H.R. 2765. Fiscal 2004 District of Columbia Appropriations/Vote to Create a $10 Million Private School Voucher Program in DC.
house Roll Call 478     Sep 05, 2003
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

Debate on the 2004 District of Columbia appropriations bill-a $7.9 billion spending bill which funds public services, programs, and government agencies in the District of Columbia-was generally consensual except for one policy initiative: school vouchers. The subject of this vote was an amendment offered by Congressman Davis (R-VA) which would create a $10 million school voucher program in the District whereby eligible elementary or secondary school students would receive $7500 to transfer from public to private schools. In the view of Progressives, private school vouchers are not a long-term fix to problems in the nation's public education system. In fact, they argued, vouchers would drain money that would otherwise be available to improve public schools. Additionally, Progressives argued, the Davis amendment would benefit only a small minority of public school students and, furthermore, the $7500 voucher would cover only a fraction of private school tuition costs (which often exceed $20,000 per year). Thus, the families of low-income students, even if they qualified for the voucher, would still be burdened with private school tuition costs. Progressives contended that students from middle and high-income families-and not students from lower-income families whom vouchers ostensibly target-would be the main beneficiaries of private school vouchers. Conversely, in the view of Conservatives, private school vouchers can improve educational opportunities for those students who are stuck in a poor public school but who would, with a voucher, be able to attend a private school. DC schools, Conservatives pointed out, rank among the worst in the nation in terms of test scores, funding per pupil, and class size. By a narrow margin of 205-203, the Davis amendment was adopted and the DC school voucher program was included in the underlying District of Columbia appropriations bill.

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