Last year, in his State of the Union Address, President Bush called for the creation of an “Opportunity Scholarships Program” — which was actually just a clever name for a proposal to drain much-needed money away from cash-strapped public schools and use it to fund private school vouchers. Private school vouchers are a bad idea, and that's why the President's proposal never went anywhere. This year, the President is reviving his private school voucher plan, but this time with a new name: “Pell Grants for Kids.” Apparently the President believes that if you just get the name right, the bad policy doesn't matter. He wants to spend $300 million on private school vouchers, even though he has broken his funding promises to America's public schoolchildren year after year after year. The President should drop the school voucher idea and instead use that money to help struggling public schools improve.
It's worth pointing out that the President failed to provide for any increase in the actual Pell Grant — a federal scholarship that helps low-and moderate-income students pay for college — for four years in a row. Not until Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 and made college affordability a priority did Pell Grant recipients see any increase in the value of the scholarship.