WASHINGTON—Archbishop George Lucas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, urged legislators to support H.R. 4901, the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization Act of 2016. The April 25 letter notes that in addition to providing extra funding for public schools, the SOAR Act provides scholarship opportunities through the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) for students from low-income families to attend private or charter schools in the District of Columbia.
"The OSP has been an educational lifeline for nearly 6,400 children from low-income families since it began in the 2004-2005 school year. The great success of the program is clearly demonstrated by its strong educational outcomes and parental satisfaction with the program," wrote Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Lucas. "The Catholic Church unequivocally teaches that parents have the right and responsibility to serve as the primary educators of their children. To assist them in this sacred duty… the state has a fundamental obligation to support parents in fulfilling such a right."
The program primarily benefits children from minority communities who are most at risk of falling behind. The average family in the program makes less than $22,000 per year; 97 percent of participating children are African American and/or Hispanic; and 87 percent of participating children are from areas whose schools are designated as in need of improvement.
H.R.4901 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R-Utah) and is scheduled for a vote on April 28.
The full text of the letter is available at www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/public-policy/upload/joint-usccb-wuerl-hr-4901-letter.pdf.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop George Lucas, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Scholarship for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization Act, education, Committee on Catholic Education, SOAR, scholarship, DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, Congress, H.R. 4901
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