The Ohio House voted with a strong, bi-partisan majority (88-7) in favor of Amended Substitute Senate Bill 89. Through this action, the House seeks to resolve the still looming crisis that would have more than 1,200 public schools eligible for EdChoice vouchers based on a flawed report card system. SB 89 addresses the issue of EdChoice vouchers by eliminating most new EdChoice vouchers and shifting the program to one based on family income.
Additionally, the bill dissolves Academic Distress Commissions (a part of the failed state takeover law) and restores local control of the Lorain, Youngstown and East Cleveland school districts by June 30, 2020.
However, the Senate recently voted this plan down leaving these important issues unresolved.
The grading system Ohio currently uses to determine performance-based vouchers doesn’t accurately reflect how well a school is educating its students, and that the state report cards and the over-reliance on standardized tests to measure student achievement need to be fixed. Another key difference between the current EdChoice performance-based voucher and those based on income eligibility is the way they are funded. Income-based vouchers are funded directly by the state instead of “pass-through” funding that reduces payments to the local school district which drains needed resources from students in the public schools.
In contrast to the House-passed plan in SB 89, the Senate-passed plan (HB 9) would maintain traditional performance-based EdChoice for 2020-2021 and beyond. The number of eligible schools for the coming school year would be around 425. Additionally, the Senate plan also increased the income eligibility threshold to 300% of poverty. Students who are eligible for both programs would continue to default to EdChoice and deductions to local school districts would continue to grow.
OEA supports SB 89 and believes that it should be used as the basis for addressing the issue.
Please take action today by writing to your State Senator and urging them to support the provisions of SB 89 as passed by the House – click here to urge your State Senator to support SB 89.
Please adapt the sample letter to talk about the impact that vouchers are having in your area and on the students in your district.
Sample letter: Targets Member’s State Senator
Subject: Fix vouchers and end ADCs
I am writing to urge you to support the provisions of Senate Bill 89 as passed by the House. This bill addresses the problems with Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program. As an educator, I have seen the current voucher program is hurting my district’s ability to serve the needs of my students.
I urge you to move away from performance-based vouchers which base eligibility on the state’s broken report card system. This system labels far too many schools as failing and must be changed. Instead, SB 89 calls for moving towards income-based eligibility giving priority to Ohio’s poorest students. Further, the bill moves towards direct state funding which would not deduct funding from the local school district. These deductions lead to larger class sizes, fewer opportunities for students and increased pressure on local taxpayers.
Also, action is needed to restore local control of public schools by dissolving academic distress commissions in Lorain, Youngstown and East Cleveland.
Public education remains the choice of more than 90% of Ohio’s students. I encourage you to stand up for these students by taking immediate action fix the harmful effects of EdChoice vouchers. I strongly urge you to stand up for Ohio’s public schools and our students by supporting these issues.