The D.C. voucher program’s future appeared limited Tuesday after the Senate voted down a measure that would have reopened the initiative to new students.
The voucher program, which since 2004 has provided low-income D.C. students with as much as $7,500 in scholarships to attend private schools, has foundered in the Democratic-controlled Congress. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have signaled their opposition to the program, instead advocating charter schools as alternatives to poorly performing conventional public schools.
Tuesday’s 55 to 42 vote was widely seen as one of the final chances for the program to be extended beyond the students who are already currently enrolled. Funding will continue for current students until they graduate high school, but has been cut off to new students for a year.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced an amendment to a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration that would have extended the voucher program for five years and funded it at $20 million a year, opening it to new students. The Senate killed Lieberman’s attempt to amend a different bill earlier this month.