Dramatic Standoff at U.S. Department of Education as Six D.C. School Voucher Backers Block Doorway-Demand Obama Action on School Choice
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Chavous, Walden Ford, Fuller, Motley, Robinson, and Allison engage in civil disobedience; support the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program WASHINGTON--(Business Wire)-- In a dramatic act of civil disobedience today, six national education leaders blocked the main entrance of the U.S. Department of Education in an effort to protect the endangered Washington, D.C. school voucher program. The protesters refused to leave the premises for nearly an hour, leading to a standoff with police. Apparently on orders from federal officials, no arrests were made. The individuals blocking entrance to the building were: former Democratic D.C. Councilman Kevin P. Chavous, longtime D.C. education activist and executive director of DC Parents for School Choice Virginia Walden Ford, the Rev. Anthony Motley, Black Alliance for Educational (BAEO) Board Chair Dr. Howard Fuller, BAEO President Gerard Robinson, and education reform leader Darrell Allison. The protesters-who sought to block the entrance of the Department because "the President and the Secretary have blocked low-income parents from accessing the schools of their parents` choice"-were cheered on by 50 families and supporters, including Councilman Marion Barry. Hailed by reformers across the country, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program serves 1,700 low-income, mostly African American, students in Washington, D.C. Two hundred and sixteen students who were offered scholarships last year had them revoked by Secretary Duncan in the Spring, leaving parents in the lurch. "Two weeks ago, it became painfully clear that the Obama administration was not going to allow 216 previously accepted children to enroll in schools of their choice through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP)," Chavous said. "As much as I support our President and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, this action reeks with hypocrisy. As a result, we decided to engage in an act of civil disobedience. For years, many of us in the education reform movement have been saying that the right to a quality education is the social justice and civil rights issue of our time. I believe that we need to match that rhetoric with direct action." "President Obama and Secretary Duncan must stop ducking this issue and answer immediately why it makes sense to deprive low-income kids of the opportunity to go to better schools. As a product himself of private school scholarships, the president`s actions are bizarre and misguided," said Walden Ford. "The bottom line is that it is morally wrong to block low-income children from attending great schools, and this Administration knows it." "I am proud to stand in solidarity with low-income D.C. parents and their children who are being disenfranchised by this Administration`s failure to fully support the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program," said Dr. Fuller. "If the President and Secretary Duncan want to keep their promise of `funding what works, regardless of ideology,` it`s time to walk the talk and stand up for a program that gives low income students in D.C. a way to seek a viable educational future." DC Parents for School Choice Kevin P. Chavous Phone: 202-276-1303 (media only) KevinPChavous@gmail.com Copyright Business Wire 2009
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