Coalition of Parents, Teachers, School Leaders and Community Members Concerned About Voucher Expansion
Feb. 12, 2013 — After seeing Gov. Kasich's education plan in his state budget proposal, parents, teachers and community members who support public schools have concerns about the "choice" expansion provisions. The proposal would dramatically change Ohio's public policy on school vouchers (public tax dollar subsidies for private and parochial school tuition).
The Coalition for Public Education said today they oppose the expansion of private school vouchers, particularly as proposed in this budget. Over the biennium, a new voucher program would allow kindergarten and first grade students from low-income families in every school district in the state to receive a subsidy to attend a private school, regardless of the academic performance of their own public school district.
Coalition members will be lobbying to have the new voucher proposals removed from the budget bill.
Ohio already has four voucher programs — more than any other state nationwide. However, the current voucher programs (with the exception of programs for special education students) are targeted for students in low performing school buildings. The new proposal could affect every district in the state, regardless of academic performance.
This new approach is not aimed at giving students better choices; it simply represents more subsidies to private schools. The Coalition noted that the special education voucher program adopted in the last budget bill (the Jon Peterson Scholarship Program) has drawn a large number of students already attending a private institution to apply for a state voucher that now pays for their tuition. The voucher program allows them to attend the school they would have attended anyway — but now with free tuition paid by taxpayers.
Citing the use of scarce taxpayer dollars, "The proposal makes a dramatic change in Ohio school funding policy because it would allow students to attend private schools using public taxpayer dollars, regardless of how well their own public school district performs. Once the state takes this step, expansion will be a matter of time," said Gloria Cazan, president of the Ohio Parent Teacher Association and a Coalition officer.
The group said the proposal lacks any basis in research showing there is a problem that needs solving, or that the new voucher program would achieve results. They said it throws money at private schools without standards for accountability or a plan to measure performance. There is no evidence to show that the four current state voucher/subsidy programs** have improved education outcomes.
**Ohio already spends a significant amount of money on four existing private school voucher/subsidy programs, as well as providing administrative funds directly to private schools and busing services for their students. In FY 2012, vouchers cost taxpayers $86 million for private school tuition.
The Coalition for Public Education is a statewide alliance of education, parent and civic organizations interested in improving public education for Ohio’s children and increasing accountability to taxpayers. Officers include Chair Barbara Shaner, Ohio Association of School Business Officials; Vice Chairs Pat Frost-Brooks, Ohio Education Association; Rick Lewis, Ohio School Boards Association; Melissa Cropper, Ohio Federation of Teachers, and Gloria Cazan, Ohio PTA; and Treasurer Michelle Francis, Ohio School Boards Association.
Member organizations include:
League of Women Voters of Ohio
Ohio Association of School Business Officials
Ohio School Boards Association
Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding
Buckeye Association of School Administrators
Ohio Association of Public School Employees
Akron Education Association
Cincinnati Federation of Teachers
Columbus Education Association
Ohio Federation of Teachers
Ohio Education Association
Toledo Federation of Teachers
Cleveland Teachers Union
Ohio Retired Teachers Association