Washington Archbishop Calls for Reauthorization of DC Opportunity Scholarship Legislation

October 19, 2007

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl is calling for the reauthorization of the federally-funded DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. The pilot school choice program, which provides low-income residents of the District of Columbia with scholarships to attend non-public elementary and secondary schools, is scheduled to expire following the 2008-09 school year.

In a letter to the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington, Archbishop Wuerl noted the success of the program. More than 1,100 participants have enrolled in Catholic schools in the District of Columbia this year and, since the program began in 2004, the schools have continued to score above proficiency on national testing. This year, Our Lady of Victory School received recognition as a national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education; 10 percent of its 182 students receive Opportunity Scholarships.

Archbishop Wuerl wrote that the program:

“…serves as a model of the real possibilities for family choice when government support is an option…Our goal is to help ensure that all children in the District receive a quality education. We believe that the three pathway approach to education in the District – that includes support for public, private (including Catholic) and charter schools – is the right approach to continue reforming the school system. We look forward to working with city and community leaders, as well as the leadership of our Catholic school community, to ensure the DCOS program is reauthorized.”

The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program provides up to $7,500 per year in tuition, transportation and fees for students who are District of Columbia residents and have a household income of no more than 185% of the federal poverty line. The Washington Scholarship Fund, which administers the program, has announced that 1,903 students have enrolled this year at 54 non-public schools located in the city.

Washington, DC is home to 27 elementary, middle and secondary Catholic schools, plus one school that serves students with special needs.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
[email protected]