March 5, 2021

Peter Robertson: Instead of diverting millions to private schools, Ohio should fund public education fairly

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Peter Robertson was an administrator in the Cleveland school system and served on the Shaker Heights school board. In a recent op-ed at, he critcizes recent policy changes in Ohio.

Last fall, changes to the state’s EdChoice voucher program by Ohio’s legislature and governor helped make roughly half the state’s students eligible for private-school scholarships, the Fordham Institute estimated. EdChoice scholarship applications for the 2021-2022 school year will be available starting this Tuesday, March 2.

The impact will be great, and it will be felt most in districts that cannot afford to be stripped of critical resources.
According to the Ohio Department of Education’s first February Foundation Funding Report, districts will spend $162 million this school year on these private school vouchers. If CHUH is any indication, that number will grow by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years.

The school and district attendance zones where students will be eligible for vouchers next school year are disproportionately populated by low-income households. Voucher eligibility is a function of a school’s poverty rate and the “Performance Index” from the school’s state report card — and that index is constructed entirely of test scores.

Ohio’s EdChoice vouchers are particularly pernicious because they can go to students who were already in private schools. In other words, the vouchers pull funding from public schools even as the public school’s enrollment stays exactly the same. An analysis cited in this op-ed found that two-thirds of the voucher students had not previously been enrolled in public schools. That is a brutal assault on public school funding.

Read the entire piece here.

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