May 14, 2015
WASHINGTON— In light of the hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a three sector program which provides funding for public, charter and opportunity scholarships for low-income students in the District of Columbia to attend private and religious schools, the USCCB Office of Catholic Education expressed support for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held the hearing on the issue, May 14, at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington.
“Today’s hearing is a welcomed first step in highlighting the transformative influence that parental choice can have in providing opportunities for students and their families,” said Sr. John Mary Fleming, executive director for Catholic Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Since its inception, the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC-OSP) has provided an educational lifeline for nearly 6,000 low-income families in the District of Columbia. The average family receiving a scholarship makes less than $22,000 per year; 97 percent of participating children are African American and/or Hispanic; and 88 percent of participating children live in zones where schools are designated as in need of improvement.
The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program was last reauthorized in the 2011 Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR). The SOAR Act provides equal funding for the three-sector federal initiative that includes public schools in the District of Columbia, charter schools and the DC-OSP.
“The Catholic Church has unequivocally taught that parents have the right and responsibility to serve as the primary educators of their children. As the Second Vatican Council taught in its Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis, parents have the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their children and must enjoy freedom in their choice of schools,” Sr. Fleming said.
In a March 30 letter, Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Education wrote to House and Senate appropriators urging them to support the full authorized funding of $60 million in the Fiscal Year 2016 Financial Services Appropriations Bill. The letter can be found at: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/public-policy/upload/DC-OSP-Approps-Ltr-House-March-2015.pdf,
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop George Lucas, Committee on Education, DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, SOAR, education, Catholic education, Sister John Mary Fleming, Congress
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MEDIA CONTACT:Norma Montenegro Flynn