SHUMMER REFUSE TO 'VOUCH' FOR PUPILS
New York's two US Democratic senators yesterday said they will vote against an amendment that would preserve a Washington, DC, school-voucher program that helps lower-income students attend private schools.
Sen. Charles Schumer said he'll cast a "no" in Monday's vote on the amendment, which is sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).
The amendment would revise a spending bill written by Democrats in Congress, so that the program would no longer effectively end next year. Under the current bill, hundreds of DC kids would have to head back into the trouble-plagued public school system.
Ensign's amendment would strip the language out of the bill that hobbles the voucher program, originally created in 2003, unless it was authorized both by Congress and the DC City Council.
"This is a program that should be discussed and scrutinized, not automatically reapproved," Schumer said. "This is why I am voting against the Ensign amendment."
Earlier in the day, Schumer said at a press conference that he favored leaving the decision to municipal lawmakers in Washington as opposed to members of Congress. DC's local legislators have expressed opposition to the voucher program. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will also cast a "no" vote, spokesman Matt Canter said.
Republicans in Congress have been making a strong push to save the voucher program and brought a group of private-school kids who are benefiting from the vouchers to Capitol Hill on Thursday to tell lawmakers to protect the program.
The program also got a shot in the arm from President Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, this week, when he said that even if the voucher system is killed, the kids currently enrolled in it ought to get similar financial assistance until they graduate.