GovTrack’s Bill Summary
We don’t have a summary available yet.
The bill’s title was written by the bill’s sponsor. H.R. stands for House of Representatives bill.
We don’t have a summary available yet.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
The summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.
This summary can be found at http://www.gop.gov/bill/112/1/hr471.
According to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee Report, Congress has often used its Constitutional authority to address what it deems as significant issues in the District of Columbia. In 1996, due to the long-standing educational failures of the D.C. public schools, the D.C. School Reform Act (P.L. 104–134) was enacted, creating charter schools in the district to increase education options for students enrolled in public schools that were consistently under-performing. In 2003, Congress created the first federally-funded, private school voucher program in the country, the D.C. OSP. Under what was termed the ‘‘three-sector’’ approach to school improvement in the District, the new law also provided additional, direct federal payments to D.C. public schools and D.C. public charter schools. The funding was to be used to help improve the education of students enrolled in traditional public schools and help improve and expand quality charter schools.
After several successful years of offering these scholarships to needy families, the Obama administration rescinded 216 scholarships that had been promised to new enrollees who were due to enter the D.C. OSP in the 2009–2010 school year. The Democratic Congress also passed an FY 2010 omnibus appropriations bill specifying that the use of any funds provided in any act for Opportunity Scholarships after the 2009–2010 school year would only be available if the program were to be reauthorized and the District of Columbia were to adopt legislation approving that reauthorization. The 2010 Omnibus Appropriations Act eliminated this restriction on funding, but specified that the $13.2 million it allocated to Opportunity Scholarships could be used for students who received scholarships in the 2009–2010 school year. D.C. consistently has an average per pupil expenditure higher than any state, while its students’ test scores are consistently among the lowest in the nation.
H.R. 471 would reauthorize the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program (D.C. OSP), which provides low-income students an opportunity to receive a competitively awarded scholarship to attend a D.C. private school of their parents’ choice. The legislation would authorize an equivalent amount of funding for school improvement for D.C. public schools and public charter schools, as part of a three-sector approach to school reform. The bill would authorize $60 million for each fiscal year from 2012 through 2016, with $20 million for the D.C. OSP, $20 million for D.C. public schools, and $20 million for D.C. public charter schools.
H.R. 471 would continue the current requirement for rigorous evaluations of the D.C. OSP. (The current requirements are provided by the 2003 D.C. School Choice Incentive Act). The bill would require that the academic achievement of students who use the scholarships be compared to the achievement of students who applied for scholarships but were not offered one. H.R. 471 would also require the use of parental satisfaction assessments measuring the success of the program in expanding choice options for parents, improving parental and student satisfaction, and increasing parental involvement in the education of their children. The bill would require evaluations comparing the retention rates, high school graduation rates, and college admission rates of students who used the scholarships to attend private schools with the rates of students of similar backgrounds who did not participate in the program. Finally, the bill would require assessments to be made comparing the safety of the schools attended by students who used the scholarships to the safety of the schools of students who do not participate in the program.
H.R. 471 would mandate certain reporting requirements from private schools participating in the D.C. OSP, as well as require such schools to administer a national norm-reference standardized test in reading and math. Additionally, the bill would require that the results of the test be reported to the student’s parents or legal guardians, as well as to the Institute of Education Sciences. Lastly, the bill would require that participating private schools maintain a valid certificate of occupancy, make information on its school accreditation available, demonstrate proof of fiscal sustainability, agree to submit to site visits, and ensure that each teacher of core subject matter has at least a baccalaureate degree or equivalent degree.
The bill would require the Mayor of Washington, D.C., upon receipt of the school improvement funding for D.C. public schools and D.C. public charter schools, provide a report to Congress regarding how the funds authorized and appropriated under the SOAR Act were used and how such funds are contributing to student achievement.
H.R. 471 would make competitive scholarships available only to students from low-income families. It would give a preference to siblings of current scholarship recipients and to students whose scholarships were rescinded at the direction of the Secretary of Education for the 2009–2010 school year. The bill would require that D.C. OSP recipients be residents of the District of Columbia and come from a household that receives assistance under the supplemental nutrition assistance programs or whose income does not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty line. To ensure there is no disincentive for parents to accept job promotions or get married, the household income limit would be increased to 300 percent of the federal poverty line for students already participating in the D.C. OSP.
The bill would limit the amount of scholarship assistance provided to an eligible student for school year 2011–2012 to $8,000 for kindergarten through eighth grade and $12,000 for grades nine through twelve.
Based on historical spending patterns for similar programs, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would cost $300 million over the 2012-2016 period, assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts. Enacting the bill would have no impact on direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
The House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.
So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference’s summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That’s because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.
We’ll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.
The bill contains the following citations to other parts of U.S. law:
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The United States Statutes at Large is the compilation of all laws enacted by Congress.