Posts Tagged ‘Bill Gates’

Let’s Close the Achievement Gap

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Currently about 1,700 low-income students in Washington, D.C. receive $7,500 vouchers to attend private schools under the Opportunity Scholarship Program.   Of these voucher students, 99% are African-American or Hispanic. These students are reading a half-grade ahead of peers not in this program. After three years, the earliest participants, according to the Education Department’s evaluation of this program,  are 19 months ahead of public school peers in reading.

Not surprisingly the program’s resounding success has made it popular with parents who see in it an opporutnity to give their children the best education possible. Isn’t this the opportunity President and Mrs. Obama and members of Congress seek for their own children?

It is time to offer all families choice in selecting the best schools for their children. Only by offering this opportunity to minority, low-income families will we close the achievement gap.  President Obama and Michelle attribute their success in large part to the excellent educational opportunities they received not only in elite colleges but in the high schools they attended.  Both attended excellent  schools because their parents were driven to give them the best education possible.  Consider the sacrifice President Obama’s mother made in parting with her son and sending him to Hawaii at age 10 to live with his grandparents so he could attend Punahou, an extraordinary school.  Without that experience, would he be our president?  Given his remarkable life story and that of wife Michelle, President Obama is just the president who can remedy this injustice.

As Bill Gates stated, “We have one of the highest high school dropout rates in this industrialized world. If we keep the system as it is, millions of children will never get a chance to fulfill their promise because of their Zip Code, their skin color or their parents’ income. That is offensive to our values.”   By saving the Opportunity Scholarship Program, our leaders can do more than lip service to ensuring equal opportunity to all children in this great country.