U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Education Chair Applauds Reauthorization of Scholarship Program Benefiting Low-Income Students

December 20, 2019 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, the United States Congress passed a four year reauthorization of the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which includes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), a federal education voucher that serves nearly 2,000 students who live in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed his appreciation for the reauthorization:

“The Catholic Church has consistently taught that children have the universal right to an education, and that parents have the right and responsibility to serve as the primary educators of their children. The Church also teaches that the state has a fundamental obligation to support parents in fulfilling such a right. I am grateful to the United States Congress for reauthorizing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which reinforces this teaching that upholds the role of parents. This popular scholarship that serves residents in our nation’s capital empowers parents to make the best educational choice for their child’s future and I applaud the reauthorization of this program.”

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was originally signed into law in 2003 as a three-sector initiative to provide new federal funding to public schools and charter schools in Washington, D.C. and provide scholarships to students for families wishing to send their children to a private school.

Over the last fifteen years, close to 25,000 students have applied to the program, and almost 10,000 have been recipients of a scholarship. The average income for families with children enrolled in the program is $24,000 per year, and 91 percent of the children are minorities. The high school graduation rate of participating students is 98 percent, and 86 percent of those enroll in a two- or four-year college or university, reinforcing the positive impact that this program has in empowering families to choose a school that best fits the needs of their child.

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Committee on Catholic Education, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, OSP, Scholarships for Opportunity and Results, SOAR Act, Catholic education, school choice, scholarships.

Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte