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Leaders bash bill to boost vouchers



Published: Sun, October 16, 2011 @ 12:03 a.m.

By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

Youngstown

Officials in many area school districts contend an Ohio House bill would further erode public- school finances.

Several school districts have passed resolutions opposing Ohio House Bill 136, which would expand the state voucher program.

The bill, sponsored by Lima Republican Matt Huffman, would create the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Saving Scholarship, granting scholarships, or vouchers, to attend nonpublic schools.

Unlike the existing EdChoice program, which allows a limited number of low-income students from poor performing districts to secure vouchers for a private school education, there’s no requirement in H.B. 136 regarding a home district’s academic performance.

Even students from districts designated excellent or excellent with distinction could request vouchers.

A family in Ohio with an annual income up to $95,000 could qualify.

“I believe it’s part of the attack on public education by the same party that holds all the power in Ohio right now,” said Roger Samuelson, president of the Champion school board.

The board of Trumbull County Career and Technical Center, of which Samuelson also is a member, passed a resolution last week opposing the bill.

He acknowledges that parents have the right to send their children to certain schools if they so choose, but he isn’t sure it’s appropriate for taxpayers to foot the bill.

The Youngstown school board also passed a resolution last week opposing HB 136.

Superintendent Connie Hathorn said it’s important to note that while students can request to attend nonpublic schools, those schools don’t have to accept them. That could affect special-education students in particular as smaller schools may not have the programs and personnel to address their needs, he said.

Public schools accept all children.

According to Youngstown’s resolution, under the bill, about $5,800 would be deducted from a school district’s state aid for each student who receives a voucher.

Sarah Pechan, director of community programs at School Choice Ohio in Columbus, said the organization supports the bill because it believes families should be able to send their children to the school of their choice.

“We hear from families that they’re not getting the education they need to help their children thrive,” she said. “They feel stuck and they’re desperate.”

Families of means already can send their children to the schools of their choice, she said. They can send them to private schools or move into a different school district, Pechan said.

“It’s families of lower means who are stuck,” she said.

HB 136’s voucher expansion would open a new door for those families, Pechan said.

Austintown Superintendent Vince Colaluca has no problem with competition if it’s a level playing field, but he says it isn’t.

“The playing field is not even,” he said. “If nonpublic or private schools don’t like a child, guess where they send them back to? The public school they came from.”

Colaluca also doesn’t believe taxpayers voting on school issues expect their tax dollars to fund other schools.

“They talk about how Ohio schools are struggling, but have they looked at public schools in Mahoning County?” he said. “We have 15 school districts that are unbelievable and one that is struggling academically.”

That trend is similar statewide, the superintendent said.

The legislation also would allow students from a particular school district already attending a private school to apply for the vouchers.

In Austintown, the 315 students who attend nonpublic schools could request vouchers and the amount would be deducted from Austintown’s state aid. The district doesn’t receive any state aid for those students, Colaluca said, and he questions whether public districts will receive any funding to make up the difference.

Diana DeVito, president of Liberty school board, expects that district to pass a resolution opposing HB 136 at its next meeting.

“It’s another question of whatever money the state takes away, who do you think makes it up?” she said. “It’s made up by the community. I’m personally very opposed.”

She’s also concerned about the number of students in the district who already attend private schools applying for the vouchers if the legislation passes.

“In a matter of the last year, the Legislature has done things and passed things that have been to the detriment of public schools,” DeVito said. “The framers of the Ohio Constitution said that the education of the children of a community is the responsibility of the community.”

She doesn’t believe tax dollars should subsidize private schools.

Recent changes in public education have been at the expense of parents who are sending their children to public schools, DeVito said.

“To me it’s just an obscenity or a corruption of what the framers of the Ohio Constitution intended,” she said. “If you want to behoove yourself of education at a private school you need to foot the bill, not the taxpayers of Ohio.”


Comments

1Just_me(18 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The article left out two very important things....1) that there are several years of consistent data coming out of Washington which prove that vouchers have had NO impact whatsoever on student achievement, anywhere---Ohio included, and 2) given that, the only motive to advance this cause is for greedy, for-profit moguls who give alot of money to the Republican candidates to continue to line their pockets with taxpayers' money. All the other opportunities to make any have dried up in this economy. The sad thing is that people are not aware of this. They will now be making the public pay for private school tuition for people who have been paying for it themselves all along. What sense does that make when districts are already faced with declining revenue? Then they will have to go to the voters and increase taxes as the money will have to come from somewhere! The punishment doesnt fit the crime for achieving districts or struggling ones. Youngstown Schools are just moving out of Academic Emergency for the first time in years under new leadership and Kasich and the Republican administration want to pull the rug out from under them? I sure hope that there wont be educators and other public employees voting for idiots like them this time around, in Ohio or in Washington. This is a national anti- public education sentiment folks, a national agenda. They want everyone to think schools are not succeeding but get away with not supporting them. Senate Bill 5 was just the tip of the lceberg...

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2countryboymark(25 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The author(s) of this article fail to objectively looking at this issue. Only one supporter of this bill was interviewed. Of course public school education officials are for this bill, they would get less money to spend! Look at this basis of 'unfairness'. Public schools get money from the state from hundreds of students in their district who do not attend their schools. Got that? Free money. It was funny that school districts (like Austintown) think it is not a 'level playing field', when they have an open enrollment program. Got that? A program that enrolls students from other school districts that lose the student and money.

To the above poster, this is not an assault on the public education system. This is a shift in the role government plays in our lives. The government does not 'compete' in the fields of cell phones, computers, shoes... and in all those fields, products are improved and lowered in price constantly. In government run 'areas', we are told the state has to provide the service.

I encourage readers to view what role government should play in our lives. Our liberty and freedom was created to combat an opressive government...

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3Education_Voter(828 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I don't support removing money from more effective schools to support less effective religious schools.
See an earlier article:
http://www.vindy.com/news/2011/oct/13...
Read the comments and use this link to the ODE reports of low voucher students scores throughout Ohio:
http://education.ohio.gov/GD/Template...

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4countryboymark(25 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

When has more money ever been the solution? If school districts are educating their students well, great! If school districts say they need more money to educate students, NOT great! Take, for example, the new iPhone. It does loads more than what the original iPhone did, and costs substantially less. Should people pay more to apple because their product is 'effective'?

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5Education_Voter(828 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

May I point out that your parochial/Christian schools are the ones seeking more money?

I would also point out that you can get a cheaper Tracfone Smartphone, and yet people will still choose the iPhone because it is better rated for, yes, effectiveness.

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6countryboymark(25 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Parochial/Christian schools, yes, would benefit from this measure. Shouldn't people have a say where their tax dollars are going? The Ohio State Supreme court has ruled the way schools are funded in Ohio are unconstitutional, yet, no school district is standing up to uphold that ruling.

You took the wrong path when comparing cell phone options compared to marketplace improvements. When the government is not involved in a sector, there are less barriers of entry. With the cell phone, we have great progressed in quality and improvements in a very short time. The focus should be on the improvement of a product or service and the ability for a customer to make his or her own selection. With the current government controlled education system, innovation and adaptation is suffocated.

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7Education_Voter(828 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

No, YOU made the analogy to cell phones, not me. Don't try to foist that bad decision on me.

Now you make another senseless quote:
"With the current government controlled education system, innovation and adaptation is suffocated."

Mark, Mark. Seriously. You are talking about parochial schools -- the very opposite of innovation and adaptation. Think about what you are saying. They are all about "tradition" and methods of the 1950s (their heyday). Look up the word "parochial" for goodness' sake.

The public schools, by comparison have been on a fifteen year path of innovation and "continuous improvement."

And I've got news for you. The parents are not the "customer". The taxpayers --single, childless, older -- who are footing most of the bill, not the parents. We do so because it is in our interest to develop thinking citizens.

In other programs, like auxiliary services and transportation, parochial schools get hundreds of thousands of dollars from public school funds already. My Church school got $330,000. in auxiliary services and thousands in busing services last year.
Parents who want even more should kick in their own tuition.

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8countryboymark(25 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Ed_Voter,

Yes, I did make the analogy about cell phones, and you tried to disprove the fact that when the government is not involved in a sector, innovation flourishes and prices drop. I did not foist anything on you, it was your inability to disprove this fact that made you look wrong.

Are you aware of how many parochial schools offer AP classes? Utilize computers and software as teaching tools? Adapted to block scheduling that reflects more on a College structure? Until you research what schools are doing, it would be best not to put forth that argument.

What determines "continuous improvement" in your book? Awards from the State? Also, if they are continuously improving, why do they need more money? I am confused how more money will lead to better results, as we already showed that a product like a cell phone can drop in price, and still be an improved product.

Agreed, church schools receive govt assistance through busing and aux services. No argument there.

You have me misconstrued. I don't want the government involved in Education at all! I want it to be open and free, and let parents choose wthere to send their kids.

If you want to support public schools, no one is stopping people from donating to their schools in their district. In fact, if this bill passes, I am sure the superintendents would gladly take donations to make up for any students "leaving" their district.

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9Education_Voter(828 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Mark asked what does “Continuous Improvement” mean? This is a process in which the professional community of the school looks at data to identify needed changes for improvement. They then research and develop some strategies for accomplishing the change, and name the means by which improvement will be measured. Data is kept for three years to determine if the strategies are successful, and the whole process starts again.

Public Education Innovations
1. Upgrading of standards (what children should know and be able to do) and training of teachers to help children reach the higher standards
2. Joint high school graduation/associates degree (Students earn two years of college credits while attending high school)
3. Internships in the world of work, science, embedded in the school day at STEM schools. Increased cooperation with businesses and colleges.
4. Real world projects tackled by students at all levels – emphasizing problem solving
5. Enhanced orchestra programs
6. Students earn high school credits by designing their own project or experience, including travel.
7. Students combine classroom seat time with home computer-aided instruction.
8. Instruction is based on a constant flow of data regarding student progress. Data is gathered in a variety of ways, including the use of “clickers” and the smart board in the school to answer questions throughout the lesson.
9. Teachers work with small groups on difficult skills while other students engage in centers with student leaders.
10. Different school schedules: all year school with quarterly breaks, longer school days, shorter weeks with home technology on the 5th day
11. Parent ability to check into teacher websites to monitor a child’s progress (grades, teacher comments, behavior, etc.) ability to toggle between lesson plans and resulting scores
12. New teacher and principal evaluations
13. Algebra or pre-Algebra taught by 7th or 8th grade to allow for time for higher math classes in 9th-12th.
14. Increased core curriculum classes to graduate from high school
15. Distance Learning – connecting with a museum or other site, including students around the world, via big screen monitors
16. Using real world materials like sets of regular books instead of basal readers
17. Games and tournaments for academic subjects

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10meagain(80 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

So what happens when said private school raises its tuition to $10,000 to keep out the undesirables and your state voucher doesn’t come close to covering that cost? And don’t think they won’t. There are a lot of private school parents who don’t their kid going to school with yours. Then in the end you don’t really end up with school choice anyway. Plus there’s nothing to say they have to take your kid. How long until we end up with the high school for football, basketball, orchestra (fill in the blank with desired specialty area here)? Maybe that’s okay. I’m just putting it out there. Why is the CEO of a charter school allowed to make an enormous profit at the expense of every tax payer in Ohio? They’ll only stand to make more if this passes in its present form. Don’t think that that’s not what this is about. It’s always about money. But maybe that’s okay with you too. I just think there are too many long term ramifications to jump on the HB 136 bandwagon.

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11Education_Voter(828 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

And Mark, I looked back at your previous posts. You had not articulated that your view of vouchers was to drive down the cost of education.
So, in your view, we are supposed to do that by spending more on parochial schools?
Um Hmm. You don't really want the government out of the picture. You want the government in your school. You'd like to see more school buses on the road going to more destinations. You'd like to see more beaurocrats working to check on those voucher funds.
You claim that competition makes a product better, but shrug off the fact that voucher students in parochial schools scored lower than public school students, not just in the Mahoning Valley, but across the state.

You want to talk about the cost of phones. I can remember when my phone bill was $25 and the phone company gave me the phone! (And replaced it if it broke.) And we complained!
What happened? People said that competition would make the cost go down, so they broke up the 1 phone company. What a joke. Ditto for the gas company.

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12countryboymark(25 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Hello,

I read through all of your 17 reasons of what public education has done to lead to innovations and measure continuous improvement.

All of these reasons are real, but I fail to see how the private sector would not have come up the same guidelines, if not better.

Providing a voucher would give people the CHOICE of where to send their child. The vouchers will provide competition to the monopoly of the taxpayer funded public school structure we are provided.

I never said I want the government in any school. I agreed busing and services are provided by the government at private schools. I want people to be able to use their tax dollars (if they are forced to pay property taxes to educate people), to have a say where their money goes.

I want to see less bureaucrats everyhere. Less administrators, less staff, less unions.

COMPETITION always leads to a better product. It will make your already great public schools better. One example is in Florda: http://educationnext.org/does-competi...

It appears you suppor the union controlled, government does it best environment that you have always known. I am advocating more freed and liberty for everyone. I feel results in every non-government controlled sector thrive, improve, and make our lives better.

Meagain, yes, CEOs of charter school could charge more. And kids can be turned away. Just like how people do not get a job everywhere they apply. But if the market is free, and new providers are allowed to enter the education market, people will have options.

Have a great day! I enjoy hearing others views.

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13Education_Voter(828 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Good Mark,
1. Because I'm going to give you a view backed up with data. Florida (and its southern neighbors) have some of the worse international and state test scores in our country. They drag down the average of scores when they are combined with Midwestern and Northeastern scores so that it appears that students in the U.S. do not perform as well as students in places like Finland.

2. Finland has little choice in schools. You go to the public school you're assigned to. Period. The teachers are more unionized than in the U.S. That's why their performance is so good.

3. Taxpayers should have a choice where their tax money goes? What about me? I have no children in school and I pay more taxes than most of the parents of students. Don't I get a choice where my money goes? I choose not to pay tuition for someone who wants to claim they are superior to others because they can go to Mooney. (Yet want a government handout to pay.)

I want my money to be used effectively, and that's proven to be in public schools.

4. I am a member of a Church that has a parochial school. The purpose of that school is to develop better and new Catholics.
It is not to simply educate other people's children. As a church member, I am taxed for the school through my Sunday contribution. ($.43 out of every $1.00 given goes to the school.)
Making that purpose mesh with the state's purpose is unconstitutional.

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