Updated: Jul 12
The march toward full funding of private education with public funds continues with SB 11 which makes everyone eligible for an EdChoice voucher and tax credits for homeschooling, and HB 11 that creates a new privatizing mechanism, an Education Savings Account. This proposal would extend public funds to a nonchartered nonpublic schools, a private category that has not been eligible before. The Governor’s proposal to increase eligibility for EdChoice vouchers to families with income levels that are up to 400% of poverty is another option that is included in HB 33, the state operative budget.
Whatever the method, if adopted it will undermine public education, lack public accountability, promote religious education, and prohibit regulation of curriculum or quality. They prioritize choice over quality.
SB 11 - Privatizing Education with Universal Vouchers and Tax Credits
SB 11 gives all families access to an EdChoice tuition voucher to attend a private school. SB 11 also provides to families who home school their children, a tax credit of $2,000.
Student eligibility for some EdChoice vouchers is based on income, and for others it is defined by low test scores for their local public school. The bill would remove both prerequisites.
By removing all previous restrictions on EdChoice voucher eligibility and providing substantial public resources for homeschooling, SB 11 makes complete the transfer of responsibility for funding private education from the individual to the public.
Why LWVO Opposes SB 11
LWVO supports the system of public education mandated in the Ohio Constitution and opposes vouchers.Public education is a democratic institution that is accountable to the public and serves the common good. Public schools are cornerstone institutions that strengthen communities and unite people in common purpose.
Public education is the only education option that ensures that all students have equal access to quality education. Public schools are a reliable and accountable education resource: they are open to all and available in every community. State standards for fiscal and educational quality coupled with public oversight protect the public interest. None of these safeguards apply to publicly funded private education.
Extending and increasing state funds to private education is expensive, unnecessarily increases state costs, and puts adequate funding of the public system at risk.
Increasing vouchers will not create opportunities that are equally available. Public education is the only source universally available in all Ohio communities. In half of Ohio’s 88 counties vouchers will not be used because they don’t have any private schools, or the few that exist cater to a specific religious group. There are no free-standing high schools. However, taxes generated from these counties will leave the county to fund private education and weaken the public schools that they rely on.
Because the private school decides who is admitted, they control who has access to public funds. Public funds should not be used by an entity that is able to discriminate.
There is no evidence that vouchers improve education quality or outcomes.
Vouchers weaken the public system. When private schools receive vouchers, they compete with public schools for students and public resources. The competition for funds takes place in the state budget and at the community level. When public school students use a voucher to leave a public school, it rarely cuts public school costs but immediately reduces public funding and enrollment, both of which damage the opportunities available for public school students.
The $2,000 tax beak allows families to decide how to spend state resources without oversight.
What you can do:
Contact your Ohio Senator and members of the Senate Education Committee and express your opposition to the legislation.
Contact Senator Matt Huffman to express your opposition to the legislation and its paralyzing impact on the ability to adequately fund public education.
Contact Senator Matt Dolan, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, to express the need to keep universal vouchers out of the Ohio operation budget.
HB 11 – Privatizing with Education Savings Accounts
HB 11 replaces the EdChoice and Cleveland Scholarship programs with Educations Savings Accounts. Every K-12 student in Ohio could request an account with an annual contribution of $5,500 for elementary students and $7,500 for high school students to spend on a private or home school education choice. The system would be administered by the Treasurer of State.
Ohio has two categories of private schools: chartered and unchartered. Learn more here: Private Schools | Ohio Department of Education. Currently only chartered non-public schools are eligible to receive state funds for tuition, transportation, auxiliary services and administrative costs. HB 11 would make non-chartered nonpublic schools eligible. There are 618 listed on the ODE website. They are schools that because of religious beliefs do not seek accreditation.
The bill forbids the state from regulating the curriculum in private schools.
Why LWVO opposes HB 11
A strong public education system is the only way to ensure that all students have equal access to quality education that will prepare them for citizenship and success in the 21st century. Public schools are a reliable and accountable education resource open to every student in every community. They are cornerstone institutions that strengthen communities and unite people in common purpose.
HB 11 removes any limits on who can educate our youth and what is taught at public expense. It lacks checks and balances that ensure that public funds are used for an education that is accurate, inclusive, meaningful and of sufficient quality to benefit the public. This is a misuse of public funds.
HB 11 makes public funding of choice more important than public funding of quality. This bill amounts to an open check book not a resource for high quality education.
HB 11 puts nonpublic education on equal footing with the public system by funding them both, but allows them to operate under completely different rules. Ohio should not operate two different publicly funded systems. It violates the constitution and undermines the success of the public system, the system that serves the common good rather than individual preferences.
Extending and increasing state funds to private education and homeschooling, unnecessarily increases state costs and puts adequate funding of the public system at risk.
Private schools that participate in the backpack funding scheme will control who has access to public funds.This is wrong.
What can you do:
Tell your Ohio State Representative, House Education Committee Chair Adam Bird, and House Speaker Stephens to oppose any expansion of public funding to unchartered non-public schools, and any unaccountable education source. This bill goes too far. Fully fund the Fair School Funding formula and uphold the Ohio Constitution.