Vouchers - Focus for Advocacy

Increase the number of school districts that join the Vouchers Hurt Ohio Lawsuit, Columbus City Schools, et.al. v. State of Ohio

On January 4, 2022, a coalition of 100 school districts and the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding filed suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court challenging the legality of Ohio’s two EdChoice voucher programs.

The suit makes five claims. It charges that using public funds to pay for scholarships to private schools violates Article VI, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution. It also argues that the Constitution does not provide for funding two systems of education – one private and one public - and that EdChoice has hastened segregation and depleted the pool of public funds available to finance a high-quality public education.

Plaintiffs expect the litigation will take several years to reach the Ohio Supreme Court. The remedy is for the Court to order the Ohio Department of Education to cease making voucher payments to private schools.

What you can do: Urge your board of education to join the lawsuit.

Here are talking points:

Why School Districts Should Join the Vouchers Hurt Ohio Lawsuit

Vouchers are a threat to adequate funding of public education.

An adequate and equitable state investment in public schools is the foundation upon which school districts provide high quality education for all students. Without sufficient funds, our public system cannot deliver what our communities need.

Since the inception of EdChoice vouchers in 2007, lawmakers have consistently increased spending on private education instead of adequately funding the public system. The 2022-23 budget increased the value of an EdChoice voucher by more than $1,000 per student, lifted a cap on the number of vouchers available, and relaxed restrictions on access. Voucher students account for approximately 10% of students funded with state resources and use 25% of state education funds.

Public schools are in direct competition with private schools for state funds.

The 2022-23 state budget puts funds for vouchers and public school in the same line item. The budget does not limit the number of vouchers that can be approved, nor define the amount of state funding that can be spent. Using state funds for vouchers means fewer resources for all public schools.

The threat continues to grow.

HB 290 proposes universal vouchers making education an individual choice rather than a public good. The threat to our public system is real. The legislature has consistently shown its preference for funding vouchers and cannot be relied on to stop this radical expansion.

Vouchers increase segregation and shift more of the burden for school funding to local taxpayers.

The impact on local communities should make this a priority concern for local school boards who are responsible for protecting the interests of their community.

EdChoice vouchers are a threat to our system of public education.

Our public education system exists to serve the common good. It is not a consumer opportunity that fulfills individual desires. Local districts are part of our public system. We need public school leaders to defend that system and its role as a civic good that benefits everyone.

Our communities and our democracy depend on an education system that is predictable, reliable, accountable, and inclusive. Our public system has become an essential resource and stabilizing influence in every corner of our state. Vouchers threaten our commitment to the equal value of every citizen. We urge you to join this challenge to the legality of vouchers.

Oppose HB 290 - the “backpack scholarship” bill

In October, 2021 Rep. Riordan McClain (9) and Rep. Marilyn John (R) introduced HB 290, also known as the “backpack scholarship program” that would make all students eligible for state funds to pay for private education, home schooling expenses, after-school care, and advanced placement testing. Every student could choose how to spend funds in their personal account administered by the State Department of Education.

The sponsors base the legislation on a different rationale than previous voucher programs: that parents have a right to private education, including religious education, at public expense. The bill rejects the Ohio Constitution and its obligation to operate a public education system.

The legislation was referred to the House Finance Committee.

The LWVO opposes this legislation. HB 290 increases the use of public funds for private education; is an explicit rejection of the state’s responsibility to fund and operate a public system of education; requires an expensive new bureaucracy to administer the funds; and removes any separation of church and state.

What you can do:

  • Contact House Finance Committee Chair and express your opposition to the legislation and to any action by the committee.

  • Contact House Speaker Cupp to express your opposition to the legislation and its paralyzing impact on the ability to adequately fund public education.

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