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Federal red tape crippling successful scholarship program for low-income families

Published in Blog on June 21, 2019 by Article V Patriot

Federal over-regulation has real consequences for real people. Navigating red tape and worrying about draconian oversight from D.C. bureaucrats cripples innovation and stifles our economic growth. 

The latest example comes from Washington itself, where a successful scholarship program has seen a 30 percent reduction due in large part to the regulatory burden imposed by Congress.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was started in 2004 to provide scholarships to students from low-income families to attend a private school of their choice. The program has been hugely successful, helping students earn a graduation rate 21 percent higher than their peers in the public school system and doing it for one-third of the cost. 

But the number of private schools participating in the system has seen a sharp decline, dropping from 68 schools in 2005 to just 48 schools today. That drop gives students fewer options and may even prohibit some students from participating in the program at all. 

The reason? As Lindsey Burke explains at The Daily Signal, the increasing amount of red tape has forced many schools to leave the program:

When the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was originally signed into law and began operation in 2004, participating private schools were bound by a relatively light set of regulations.

They were required to abide by federal civil rights laws; had to have scholarship students participate in independent, congressionally mandated evaluations of the program; and had to provide reports about student academic achievement to parents.

But in 2011, Congress added new requirements that participating private schools submit to site visits by the program administrator, inform prospective students about the school’s accreditation status, mandate that teachers of core subjects have bachelor’s degrees, and require participating students to take some form of nationally norm-referenced test.

Notably, the 2011 reauthorization also required, for the first time, that participating private schools be accredited or be on a path to accreditation.

In 2017, Congress again added considerable new regulations onto participating private schools.

The reauthorization mandated that the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education conduct evaluations of the academic achievement outcomes of students attending schools in which more than 85% of the student body uses a voucher to pay tuition.

Notably, the 2017 reauthorization required that each participating school supply a certificate of accreditation to the administering entity upon program entry, demonstrating that the school is fully accredited before being allowed to participate.

This is how the federal government exerts control over the American people. Slowly, over time, our "leaders" in Washington impose more and more regulations until they're finally in charge of our everyday decisions. 

The result, as the D.C. scholarship program illustrates, is to hamper our productivity, creativity, and success.

This needs to stop, but Congress won't do it. While some senators and representatives are uncomfortable with over-regulation, most of them wouldn't dream of giving up their ability to "solve" our problems and "take care" of our every need.

That's why the people and the states need to get involved by calling the first-ever Article V Convention of States. A Convention of States can propose constitutional amendments that limit the power, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government. These amendments can restrict the power of Congress and bureaucratic agencies to impose burdensome restrictions on private businesses, schools, individuals. 

The nanny state has been in control long enough. It's time to once again unleash the innovation of the American people, and we can do it with a Convention of States.

Sign the petition to call for an Article V convention!

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