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D.C. Voucher Program Gets Mixed Reviews From Families

Despite problems that marred the program's initial year of operation, the families of the first wave of students to take part in the District of Columbia voucher program are generally satisfied with their children's experiences, according to a study released last week.

But the study also cites concerns that include confusion over costs, a perceived need for tutoring to help students adjust to new academic demands, and reports that some teachers have made youngsters feel singled out because of their scholarship status. Parents also cited instances in which they said their children had been stigmatized in their new schools because of their participation in the program. One parent, for example, recounted that a teacher had told her daughter, in front of her class, to behave better because "remember, you are here on a scholarship, and we could put you out."

Jeffrey Henig, a professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, cautioned that the report is "a snapshot of an early and as yet immature program," rather than a definitive evaluation of it. "Time will tell whether the satisfaction of parents and students deepens or dissipates as the program really begins to take shape," he said.

This article, written by Debra Viadero, appeared in the October 26th, 2005 publication of Education Week.

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