Summary

To reauthorize the DC opportunity scholarship program, and for other purposes. Read More

Status

This bill was introduced in a previous session of Congress and was passed by the House on Mar 30, 2011 but was never passed by the Senate.

Date Introduced
Jan 26, 2011

Co-Sponsors

r-49
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Bill Text

A BILL

To reauthorize the DC opportunity scholarship program, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act'' or the ``SOAR Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following: (1) Parents are best equipped to make decisions for their children, including the educational setting that will best serve the interests and educational needs of their child. (2) For many parents in the District of Columbia, public school choice provided under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as well as under other public school choice programs, is inadequate. More educational options are needed to ensure all families in the District of Columbia have access to a quality education. In particular, funds are needed to provide low-income parents with enhanced public opportunities and private educational environments, regardless of whether such environments are secular or nonsecular. (3) While the per student cost for students in the public schools of the District of Columbia is one of the highest in the United States, test scores for such students continue to be among the lowest in the Nation. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an annual report released by the National Center for Education Statistics, reported in its 2009 study that students in the District of Columbia were being outperformed by every State in the Nation. On the 2009 NAEP, 56 percent...

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State: CA

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Popularity Trend

Organizations Supporting

The SOAR Act will give new life to the DC Opportunity Scholarship program by providing vouchers to low-income students in the nation’s capital. Heritage Action supports passage of the SOAR Act and will include this as a key vote in our scorecard.

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Heritage Action 3 years ago

The Washington, DC public school system is the most expensive yet produces the worst results in the nation. Taxpayers pay an average of $28,170 per pupil annually, but only 12 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in reading and only 8 percent in math. Because our the education system rations which school students are allowed to attended based on the street address of their parents, many poor families have no choice but to enroll their children in a failing local public school. The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program gave students a voucher which enabled them to attend the school of their choice. It’s important to note that, rather than spending new money, vouchers empower students as consumers. They allow students to take some of the dollars that would have been spent on their education at the local school they would have been forced to attend, and free them to choose their own school where those dollars will instead pay for their education. http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/mkibbe/key-vote-yes-on-hr-471-to-reauthorize-the-dc-oppor

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FreedomWorks 3 years ago

Organizations Opposing

NEA opposes school vouchers because they divert essential resources from public schools to private and religious schools, while offering no real "choice" for the overwhelming majority of students. Teachers, parents, and the general public have long opposed private school tuition vouchers — especially when funds for vouchers compete with funds for overall improvements in America's public schools. NEA and its affiliates have been leaders in the fight to improve public schools— and oppose alternatives that divert attention, energy, and resources from efforts to reduce class size, enhance teacher quality, and provide every student with books, computers, and safe and orderly schools. http://www.nea.org/home/16378.htm?__utma=-&__utmb=-&__utmc=-&__utmx=-&__utmz=-&__utmv=-&__utmk=38294271

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On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members of People For the American Way, we urge you to oppose H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, which is scheduled for a floor vote this Wednesday. This bill would reauthorize the DC private school voucher program, the “temporary five-year pilot” program that has existed since 2003. Despite its proponents’ claims, the program has simply not provided any significant improvement in the educational attainment of the enrolled students. Even worse, it has undermined our nation’s core constitutional principles. https://www.pfaw.org/issues/on-capitol-hill/letters/People-For-the-American-Way-Opposes-DC-Vouchers-HR471-2

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All five of the federal studies that have analyzed the pilot DC Voucher program concluded that the program is ineffective in that it has not resulted in higher academic achievement for students who use the vouchers, and in some cases have led to an abuse of taxpayers’ money. The D.C. Voucher program is not supported by the majority of the District’s residents, and is a classic example of Congress overriding the wishes of the District’s democratically elected officials. School vouchers do not offer a collective benefit. Vouchers take critical resources away from our neighborhood public schools, the very schools that are attended by the vast majority of African American students. Furthermore, private and parochial schools are not required to observe federal nondiscrimination laws even if they receive federal funds through voucher programs. This means that they can discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, disability and language proficiency – and even merit, despite the fact that they are receiving taxpayer funds. http://naacp.3cdn.net/9a563659dd0b370cd2_uzm6b901c.pdf

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SOAR would reauthorize and expand the federally-funded private school voucher program in the District of Columbia, including provisions that exempt taxpayer-supported schools taxpayer-supported schools from federal civil rights laws. We strongly oppose any bill that strips students from these critical civil rights protections. The D.C. voucher program was created by the D.C. School Choice Incentive Act, which provided funding for a five-year pilot program offering private school vouchers to students in the District of Columbia. That legislation changed well-established law by permitting federal dollars to finance education programs without requiring any corresponding obligation that programs comply with federal anti-discrimination laws (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Age Discrimination Act). http://www.civilrights.org/advocacy/letters/2011/school-choice.html

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AAUW has long opposed voucher schemes like the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act (H.R. 471) while strongly supporting the separation of church and state. In D.C., many of the vouchers have gone to religious schools that aren’t required to ensure civil rights protections for students. As a result, AAUW opposed the reauthorization of the Washington, D.C., program, which uses federal money. AAUW believes that the correct strategy for improving our nation’s schools is to direct taxpayer dollars toward improving public schools rather than diverting scarce public funds to private institutions.

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Bill Summary

H.R. 470 Hoover Power Allocation Act of 2011 H.R. 472 Impact Aid Fairness and Equity Act of 2011