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Capitol Hill Watch Alert

District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2004 (H.R. 2765)

As part of the District of Columbia Appropriation Act, (H.R. 2765) [To view: Full text of legislation] the Senate is debating a federal school voucher program for the District.  As of Thursday, September 25, 2003, the legislation has stalled because a proposed compromise fell short.  To secure at least 60 votes, Republicans are trying to overcome a possible Democratic filibuster because of the slim majority they hold in the Senate.   The final vote on this bill is expected next week.

To receive a private education, provided children are accepted by a school and can pay any expenses not covered by the maximum $7,500 voucher annually, the measure would provide $13 million for at least 1,700 poor children in the District of Columbia. 

If the bill limited vouchers to students in failing schools, it requires that schools accept voucher students without charging extra tuition and ensures that schools demonstrate the same annual progress as required for public schools under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  Senators Mary Landrieu (Democrat-Louisiana) and Thomas Carper (Democrat-Delaware) offered to support the measure.

Washington students scored at or near the bottom in most areas according to a U.S. Department of Education analysis of big-city schools in June despite spending $12,000 annually per student, which is a third higher than the national average.  Furthermore, three out of four fourth graders could not do basic math and seven out of ten lacked basic reading skills.

School choice programs have demonstrated nationally that students can achieve academically when parents are given an opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice.  One way to reverse the continuing trend of deteriorating performance of D.C. schools is allowing these parents to have the opportunity of school choice.

What Can You Do?

Urge your senators to SUPPORT  a federal school voucher program for the District of Columbia as part of the District of Columbia Appropriation Act, (H.R. 2765).

Contact Information:

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senator's office.)

To go to your senators' websites, find their E-mail or to find out who your senators are... http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm  

Addressing Correspondence: 

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 

Dear Senator (last name):  


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