March 12, 2024

Plain Dealer Editorial Board: Instead of promoting choice, much of the nearly $400 million for expanded Ohio school vouchers went to those already attending private schools

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The editorial board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says that the facts are in, and it’s clear that school vouchers did not promote choice or help those struggling for an education.

Last June, when the Ohio House passed Amended Substitute House Bill 33, the two-year state budget, sending it to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk for his signature, House Majority leadership celebrated the “landmark” expansion of EdChoice school vouchers, loosening income caps to make voucher benefits available to all Ohio families.

“Along with funding public education, the budget makes a landmark investment in school choice with a universal voucher program,” the statement from House Republican leadership said. “This program is designed to safeguard lower-income families and offers options beyond traditional public schools. By expanding access to vouchers, Ohio ensures parents can make the best decisions for their children’s education.”

But data from implementation of this “landmark investment in school choice … designed to safeguard lower-income families” suggest it did very little to provide school choice or to help low-income families.

Instead, parents in affluent communities like Rocky River, Westlake and Bay Village with kids already in private and parochial schools appear to have taken immediate advantage of the new eligibility rules. Families of four up to 450% of poverty levels (that is, earning up to $135,000 a year) now qualify for full taxpayer-funded vouchers, and those making more money qualify for partial vouchers.

Ohio’s legislature, to be true to its stated school-choice motive, should rewrite the rules to guarantee that this money goes to children in underperforming schools, possibly relying on state report cards to set the standard.

Read the full editorial here. 

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