Stephen Dyer: Voucher Lawsuit Filed, Voucher Proponents Dissemble
Stephen Dyer watches privatizing shenanigans in Ohio, where a group of school districts has now sued the state over its EdChoice Voucher program, and voucher fans have started offering defenses that are, as Dyer shows, baloney.
Now that a group of 100 school districts have formally sued the state over the EdChoice Voucher program, it’s time for voucher proponents to trot out their favorite canard — vouchers give students of color opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. And to oppose vouchers is to oppose opportunities for students of color.
The reason this canard is so pernicious is simple: It’s not true, and in fact, the opposite is true. Vouchers are disproportionately distributed to white students, leading to greater overall segregation in public school districts and communities of color with substantially fewer state resources to educate students in those communities.
This is the stat that voucher proponents love to quote, and it’s what Greg Lawson (a guy I actually like personally, despite our profound policy differences on this and nearly every issue) from the Buckeye Institute articulated in the Dispatch story yesterday:
“Greg Lawson of the Buckeye Institute said the data on who takes vouchers varies from school to school, but overall more minority students use EdChoice.
Ohio is about 82% white, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. But 50% of the students who take an EdChoice scholarship identify as white or non-Hispanic, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
‘The choice is there for everybody regardless of what demographic box they check,’ Lawson said.”
What Greg and others “forget” is that EdChoice doesn’t apply to every school district in the state. In fact, according to data from last school year, only 164 of Ohio’s 613 school districts lost any state funding to the EdChoice Voucher transfer last year — a $164 million deduction from districts’ state aid. However, 95% of that funding came from just 38 school districts. Want to take a gander at the demographic makeup of those 38 districts? You guessed it. Overwhelmingly non-white. How overwhelmingly?
Try 68% non-white.
Sounds a whole lot different from the 82% white stat Greg mentioned, doesn’t it? In fact, of those 38 districts, only Wilmington was close to the 82% white stat.