school vouchers

photo of classroom desks
SHUTTERSTOCK

A rare President's Day committee hearing went on for hours at the Ohio Statehouse as lawmakers heard testimony on proposed changes to the EdChoice private school voucher program. Most of the witnesses were firmly in one of two camps – public schools or parochial schools.

Rudie Wright – parent at St. Lawrence School
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

As conference committee hearings on a bill to change the state’s EdChoice private school voucher program go on, parents and students in that program came together to speak out for one of the two plans being debated by lawmakers. A resolution needs to be agreed on before the EdChoice application process opens April 1.

Democratic lawmakers are pushing for legislation that phases out EdChoice private school vouchers, which are based on public school performance. Legislators say the bipartisan House bill puts the focus back on making sure the public school system is fair and efficient.

With just hours to go before families could submit applications for the state’s EdChoice private school voucher program on February 1, lawmakers approved a delay until April 1 so they they had more time to try to work out a compromise.

The Republican leaders of both chambers are holding fast to their different proposals.

photo of Ohio Statehouse
KAREN KASLER / OHIO PUBLIC RADIO

The House has voted on a plan to move the start of the EdChoice application process ahead to April 1, just hours before the private school voucher program is supposed to start accepting applications on Saturday. Now, it goes to the Senate Friday morning.

A picture of an empty school hallway
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine isn’t weighing in on the deliberations in the House and Senate over school vouchers. DeWine talks about the need to do more to help failing school districts early on.

Some lawmakers have suggested the state do away with the Academic Distress Commissions that provide oversight to three failing districts. DeWine says he thinks the state should continue to monitor the performance of school districts. 

a photo of a classroom
SHUTTERSTOCK

This is the week that advocates for school choice are highlighting alternatives to traditional public schools.

One choice that may be available to a growing number of parents is a voucher to use public money to pay for private education.

That expansion of Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program could devastate public school budgets unless lawmakers take action this week.

a photo of EdChoice parents
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Parents of kids using private school vouchers are calling on lawmakers to keep the current program structure in place. As of now the list of schools to be designated for eligible vouchers is about to nearly triple.

Students are eligible for the EdChoice voucher if their public school building appears on the "low-performing" list. That list has 517 school buildings on it now, but it's set to jump to 1,227.

Lawmakers are looking at avoiding such a large spike.

a photo of a school hallway
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

As lawmakers consider a deal that would avoid a large increase in the number of public school buildings where students would qualify for performance-based vouchers, Ohio’s largest school groups are raising concerns about it. 

The proposal from State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) says only buildings getting F's would be removed from the list where students would qualify for EdChoice vouchers for the next three years.

EdChoice Voucher Debate Continues

Dec 19, 2019
a photo of Matt Huffman
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A lawmaker who backed the expansion of the state’s largest voucher program said it’s creating problems – with a 400% increase in the number of public school buildings where students will be eligible for private school vouchers by next school year.

He’s joining the calls to make changes before the EdChoice program starts accepting applications in a few weeks.

State Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said the EdChoice expansion has created unintended consequences.

“There are a lot of schools on this list that shouldn't be on the list.”

photo of empty desk
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio’s public schools could lose millions of dollars to private schools through an expansion of the state’s biggest voucher program. New rules on criteria for the EdChoice program have increased the number of school buildings considered "failing" by more than 400 percent.

Ohio school's CEO Paolo DeMaria maintains that vouchers create the competition that improves public schools.Credit KABIR BHATIA / WKSUEdit | Remove

A proposal in state Senate that would modify Ohio's voucher program is getting a qualified endorsement from the superintendent of the state's schools.

photo of private school Statehouse rally
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

More than 1,000 students, parents and leaders from private schools rallied at the Statehouse to thank lawmakers for money in the budget that helps low-income families pay for tuition.

Treajohn Richmond is an eighth-grader at St. Adalbert Catholic School in Cleveland. He credits state dollars for allowing him to attend school there, where he met leaders who helped him get into in a highly rated Catholic high school.

photo of empty desk
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A lawmaker wants to change the eligibility rules for people who want to get scholarships from the state to send their kids to certain private schools. The plan is meant to provide more access for the middle class.

Republican Senator Matt Huffman of Lima wants to take the state’s various private school voucher programs and combine them into one system. Right now, vouchers go to children in so-called failing school districts, among other considerations.