Rep. Gosar Speaking in Support of the SOAR Act

Rep. Paul Gosar speaking on the House Floor in support of H.R. 471, the SOAR Act. Click here to watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf-FhV7hXS0

Rep. Paul Gosar speaking on the House Floor in support of H.R. 471, the SOAR Act.  Click here to watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf-FhV7hXS0 

Below is a text of the Dear Colleague letter that Rep. Gosar wrote in support of H.R. 471:

Help the school children of the District of Columbia SOAR, support H.R. 471

From: The Honorable Paul A. Gosar
Bill: H.R. 471
Date: 3/28/2011

Dear Colleague:

It may not surprise you to learn that the public school system in our nation’s capital is failing, and in dire need of improvement. The District of Columbia public schools spend more than $20,000 per year to educate just one student – and yet, the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) found that D.C. students were being outperformed by every state in the nation. On the 2009 NAEP, only 17% of fourth graders were proficient in reading; the same study found that only 13% of eighth graders were proficient in reading. In addition, there are reports of violence, gang activity, drug use, and promiscuity being rampant, ensuring little to no chance for a stable learning environment. We can do better.

Why is this issue before Congress instead of a local school board?  Because Congress has the Constitutional authority under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, to exercise exclusive legislation and authority over the District of Columbia.   This section of the Constitution provides that Congress shall have the power: “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States.”

We cannot continue to allow the District schools to fail its District students.   That is why I encourage you to support H.R. 471, the SOAR Act, when it comes up for a vote next week. H.R. 471 would reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which offers low income D.C. students a scholarship to attend the private school of their parents’ choice. The program authorizes $20 million in scholarships, $20 million to expand D.C. Charter Schools, and $20 million for improvement measures inside D.C. Public Schools. Since the program’s inception in 2003, parents have raved about the programs’ success. In fact, 74% of District residents support continuing the program. Observers also note that the program has been exceptionally effective, providing scholarships at less than half the cost of educating a child in D.C. Public Schools. During the Oversight Committee hearing on H.R. 471 earlier this month, I was inspired to hear the stories of parents whose children were rescued from failing schools. I heard the poignant stories of children whose lives were changed, immeasurably for the better, by the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.   

Like many of my colleagues, I firmly believe that education reform must center around local control and parental choice above all. The District of Columbia presents a unique challenge, given the abysmal state of its education system, and the oversight role we have in Congress. This is why I firmly believe that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is money well spent, a shining example of school choice and competition, and an endeavor worth your support.

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