Archdiocese of Washington Applauds House Passage of Legislation to Extend Scholarship Program for Low Income Students in District of Columbia
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
WASHINGTON – The Archdiocese of Washington applauds the passage today of H.R. 10, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act of 2015 (SOAR Act) in a vote of 240 to 191. The bill, introduced earlier this month by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) reauthorizes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program through 2022.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program is part of a three-sector program that also includes additional funding for public schools and public charter schools in the District of Columbia. This three-sector program makes $60 million available to be evenly divided among public schools, charter schools and scholarships for low-income families to use at non-public schools.
The majority of Opportunity Scholarship students come from single-parent families and the average household income is approximately $22,000 per year. Nearly half of the students enrolled in the program this year live in Wards 7 and 8 of the District, the most economically challenged areas, and almost all of them, 99.7 percent, would otherwise be zoned for what has been classified as a “School in Need of Improvement.” Reauthorization of OSP would mean parents in the nation’s capital would continue to have the option of selecting a school that best fits the educational needs of their children. Since 2004, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has been a popular and effective program providing a quality private school education to nearly 6,200 very low-income children within the District of Columbia.
The archdiocese is hopeful for swift passage of the SOAR Act’s companion legislation in the U.S. Senate, S. 2171.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
Chieko Noguchi or Lindsey Frechou