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MEDIA ALERT                                                         For more information contact:

                                                                                                                                                   Melody Webb

Stop D.C. Vouchers Inaugurated


Innovative Advocacy Project To Drive An Intense Letter-Writing And Awareness Raising Campaign In The New Coalition On Public Schools Through Its State-Of-The Art Website Technology And Its Vigorous Outreach In The Community. The Initiative To Help Defeat The Voucher Proposal With Congressional Constituents And The Conversion Of School Board President Peggy Cafritz


Washington DC    May 1, 2003

Following in the steps of its success in helping win a three year extension for CareFirst subscribers using Children’s and to stop the conversion of CareFirst, Lobbyline.com announces a new project.  We announce ‘Stop D.C. Vouchers’, an innovative and pioneering campaign to oppose the Congressional school voucher plan for D.C. by focusing on its impact on D.C. voting rights, putting a compelling twist on the fight.  Lobbyline is a revolutionary, grassroots advocacy initiative for local and national individuals and groups that connects people to powerful decision-makers to create beneficial change in their communities. The ‘Stop D.C. Vouchers’ initiative of Lobbyline is organizing in the D.C. community and on-line to help D.C. residents and supporters take on voucher legislation that Congress seeks to impose on Washington, D.C.. 


Stop D.C. Vouchers is transforming the anger of the D.C. community into vigorous action as it leads citizens to halt school vouchers through two strategies.  “We aim to win over Congressional constituents of voucher supporters in Congress to our side and we seek to convert needed allies like School Board President Peggy Cafritz to our side. This new Lobbyline project gives advocacy strategies on D.C. issues before Congress a new twist.” said Melody Webb, the director of Lobbyline. Webb is an attorney, and a native and resident of D.C. and a graduate of D.C.’s public schools.  “We are aiming to kill the voucher legislation as well as to further the goals of the move for D.C. voting rights and full self government”.  

 “We will appeal to local residents by demonstrating that Congress is meddling in local D.C. affairs, but we also appeal to the constituents of these congressmen that their representatives are spending their time helping run Washington D.C., rather than working for their constituents.  So, I am not appealing to their better natures (“Please set us free”), rather I am appealing to their selfish self-interest (“Your congressman is two-timing you”).”

 ’Stop D.C. Vouchers’ knows that it has its work cut out with some local officials but is determined to convert them to anti-voucher cause.  Webb is confident that local officials who have not already stood up for public school choice will come to see the need for school choice funds in public not private schools. 

The ongoing controversy around D.C. School Board President Peggy Cafritz originates with her controversial and unfortunate turnabout on school voucher legislation in Congress.  Recently, Ms.Cafritz' letter to the editor in the Washington Post stated that she had evolved into her new stance due to the unhappiness of DCPS parents and due to her desire to avoid a fight against the voucher legislation that could not be won (given the Republican-controlled White House and Congress). “Through Ms. Cafritz, Congress appears to have gained an ally in the DC school system to subvert the cause of DC home rule. We stand with Congresswoman Norton in her vow to defeat this Congressional plan and we are confident that Ms. Cafritz will see the light again on this Congressional voucher plan” Melody Webb vowed..

“Members of Congress and Ms. Cafritz must not count the voucher opposition out.  Through our innovative on-line and grassroots advocacy campaign, we will help our coalition partners give the voucher proponents in Congress a round and sound legislative challenge,” states Melody Webb.

Local DC residents and supporters and Ms. Norton's allies in Congress are perfectly capable of mounting a huge fight against this voucher effort and are currently doing so.  “Ms. Cafritz’ constantly shifting stance on vouchers and surrounding issues is unfortunate but goes to show it is not easy to just give away school choice money to private schools when there are so many public school choice programs to fund in D.C. instead.”  said Webb. Ms. Cafritz has yet to articulate arguments favoring the merits of school vouchers. Aside from the fact that we disagree with vouchers as a policy, we disagree with Ms. Cafritz because she has failed to do outreach, education, and consultation with the community on this matter.  She needs to do all of that on the timetable of the DCPS community, rather than that of Congressman Jeff Flake's legislation.

“Does Ms. Cafritz know, for example, that children with special needs are not afforded the same educational rights and protections in private schools that they are in public schools? What happens if a child begins to display behavior-related learning disabilities in a private school that he has entered with a tuition voucher? The school simply kicks him out. Not so in public schools. There is too much work to be done; too much to learn from the community of local DC parents, advocates, and scholars, to jump in bed with this socially conservative non-fix for the DC public school population” Webb offered.

‘Stop D.C. Vouchers’ is the first initiative of the ‘Leave D.C. Alone’ campaign to draw attention to Congressional incursions on D.C. services and programs through its oversight role. The campaign intends to further the cause of home rule and a vote in Congress for Washington, D.C., which currently lacks both.  ‘The Leave D.C. Alone’ initiative over several weeks will target different Congressmen driving legislation that intermeddles in D.C. affairs.  “It is time we turned the tables and take the fight to their home districts” states Melody Webb, director of Lobbyline and the projects fighting for home rule.

Through ‘Stop D.C. Vouchers’ ‘Leave D.C. Alone’ pursues Congressman Jeff Flake, of Arizona, who is sponsoring the voucher bill in Congress. “We are opposed to school vouchers, and since the new legislation is a by-product of the lack of voting representation, the new campaign is a voting rights campaign that will be phased in over a period of weeks.  As a public school reformer, I am appalled at the series of assaults being made on our freedom to reform the D.C. schools as we see fit.  Our first campaign opposes legislation to promote school vouchers.” Webb stated.  Webb started her home-based business when she felt there was a need to give citizens easy access to officials and decision-makers.

Our campaign to defeat vouchers is on the move.  We vow the following. Let's tell Ms. Cafritz to withdraw her support from this voucher legislation. Let's thank Councilmember Adrian Fenty for his work opposing this voucher plan. Let's tell Congressman Flake to withdraw the legislation (H.R. 684) altogether. Let's tell his Arizona constituents via his home district newspaper (which came out against vouchers a couple of years ago) that Jeff Flake is neglecting Arizona issues, just like the Arizona Governor Napolitano says he is doing. Let's tell Jeff Flake to leave DC alone.

The community is taking action in these ways.  The community can E-mail and fax these
decision-makers in a couple of minutes on the action page of http://www.stopdcvouchers.org. We provide guidance on letter-writing.  Citizens are encouraged to write and call local and Congressional officials.  Through ‘Stop D.C. Vouchers’ citizens can and are taking action to reclaim public funds for public school choice in the community.


For more information, contact Melody Webb at (202) 554 8519, or at melodywebb@lobbyline.com.



This site was last updated 07/28/03