DC voucher program saga turns into DC rights issue

As Andy reported last Friday, the DC Council has sent a letter to Secretary Duncan urging him to reconsider the fate of the DC Opportunity Scholarship program. What's interesting is that the issue is picking up additional hints of the long running "taxation without representation" debate that has surrounded DC's disenfranchised state. Currently, the District has no voting representation in Congress, only a (non-voting) delegate to the House of Representatives. The Wall Street Journal explains:

The D.C. Council's letter shows that support for these vouchers is real at the local level and that the opposition exists mainly at the level of the national Democratic Party. Mr. Durbin has suggested that he included the D.C. Council provision in deference to local control. "The government of Washington, D.C., should decide whether they want it in their school district," he said in March. Well now we know where D.C. stands.

We'll have to wait and see if the voucher program becomes the headline issue for DC Votes activists. It seems perfectly suited to the job.

On a more historical note, DC rights issues could change District education in some surprising ways. (Read more about the movement here.) Various unsuccessful DC rights legislation came and went during the tenure of Bush 43; the most recent effort, which is also the most promising, appeared this spring. Even more interesting is that one of the options is returning the District to Maryland, the state that donated the land of which it is now made up. (Virginia also donated some land, but it was returned in the mid 1800s.)

Though there are proposed limitations on how much control the state government of Maryland would be able to exercise over the formerly autonomous District, there would need to be some melding of local and state government if a Maryland representative were to represent the residents of the District. Maryland says it doesn't want the land back, so this option is not the forerunner these days, but that's not to say that it couldn't happen. So here's a thought experiment... what would happen to DCPS if it became a Maryland school district?

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