Victims of the politics that eliminated the Washington, D.C., school voucher program are kids like Mercedes Campbell, a student at Georgetown Visitation Prep. After escaping the notoriously poor D.C. school district, she describes her new life in glowing terms. “I approach things differently,” she said. “It’s like a whole new world, basically.” Her mother, Ingrid, now facing the prospect of returning her child to a failing school, in an interview desperately asks President Barack Obama, “why, sir, why?”

In addition to the anecdotal stories of past success and the perilous future these children face, there now is statistical evidence from a U.S. Department of Education study that confirms the ardent enthusiasm Mercedes and her mother have for the scholarship:

– Reading achievement increased by 3.7 months of learning and math achievement was no worse for those who used scholarships.- Parents of students offered scholarships were more likely to report that their child’s school was safer and had an orderly school climate.

Similar success has been documented in scholarship programs across the country like the Horizon school choice program.

The answer to Mrs. Campbell’s question seems to be that although the government has failed miserably for decades with public schools, it will sacrifice what definitively works for her child for the unproven contingent hope that it may find a way to fix the public schools. To this sort of hope in the unseen that doesn’t put these kids first, we must answer as USA Today did in its editorial this morning: Mercedes deserves better.

– John Kim