To the Editor:
Ohio’s ballooning EdChoice voucher program threatens to undermine the system of public education in Ohio, as well as Darke County. The program uses a flawed school report card to unfairly label public schools as “failing” and forces districts to subsidize the cost of private school tuition. Due to recent changes, hundreds of millions of public tax dollars will subsidize private school tuition for students, many of whom have never attended a public school.
Next school year, more than 70% of Ohio’s districts will have an EdChoice-eligible building. The number of eligible buildings will mushroom from approximately 230 last year to more than 1,200 next year – a 422% increase. Nearly half of these buildings received overall grades of A, B or C on their current state report card.
Vouchers cost $4,650 for K-8 students and $6,000 for high school students, funneling money away from public schools to pay for private and parochial tuition. Students can keep the voucher throughout their academic career, costing taxpayers nearly $66,000 per pupil to fund a private education. These costs far exceed what the state provides the public school districts, so districts must rely on local tax dollars to cover the difference.
Vouchers also threaten districts’ ability to serve their remaining students and jeopardize the quality of those students’ educational experiences. Public school districts are held to high standards and accountability, unlike private schools that do not have to use the same state tests to assess student achievement and can determine their own enrollment and admission policies.
In the end, local taxpayers who never intended for their tax dollars to go to private and parochial schools lose. Students are placed in educational settings where there is little-to-no accountability, and school districts that are doing great things for kids are inappropriately labeled as “failing.”
Please contact your state legislators and tell them to stop draining funds from public school budgets. Tell them to stop funneling taxpayer dollars to private and parochial schools. Tell them it’s time to stop undermining Ohio’s system of public education, where every child is accepted and educated.
Jim Atchley, superintendent, Ansonia Local Schools
John Stephens, superintendent, Arcanum-Butler Local Schools
Joe Hurst, superintendent, Bradford Exempted Village Schools
Jeremy Pequignot, superintendent, Franklin Monroe Local Schools
Douglas Fries, superintendent, Greenville City Schools
Jeffery Winchester, interim superintendent, Mississinawa Valley Schools
Josh Sagester, superintendent, Tri-Village School District
Michael Gray, superintendent, Darke County Educational Service Center