Features

Voucher victory

National

Issue: "Isabel's slow march," Sept. 27, 2003

THE CLOCK HAD RUN OUT IN THE House vote on District of Columbia student vouchers, but a wavering vote tally left the outcome unclear. In the gallery above, a dozen D.C. parent activists watched the last-minute wrangling with heavy expectancy, clutching hands and praying with bowed heads. It was yet another moment of truth in the decade-long fight for parental choice in the nation's capital. When the gavel came down on Sept. 9, their cause had narrowly prevailed, 205-203.

The ecstatic onlookers burst out of the gallery. Catherine Hill, a grandmother of children in the D.C. schools, broke into song: "Wade in the water.... Our children gonna have vouchers!" In another room of the Capitol, the parents celebrated with House champions of the D.C. voucher initiative, U.S. Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). They hadn't cleared every hurdle yet, Mr. Davis cautioned, but he was optimistic they would.

Now D.C. Parents for School Choice is focusing its attention on the Senate, where the proposal passed the committee level with the help of California Democrat Dianne Feinstein. But the bill faces a potential filibuster when it goes to the Senate floor as early as this week. The parents will make their case on behalf of their children, however long it takes. "Until everything changes, you save as many as you can," said D.C. mother Elisa Cooper.

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Jennifer Marshall
Jennifer Marshall

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