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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 3 years, 2 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 3 years, 2 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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3countryboymark(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 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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4countryboymark(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 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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5countryboymark(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 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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6meagain(81 comments)posted 3 years, 2 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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7countryboymark(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 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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8peacelover(791 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Some of the people who post here don't make sense to me. They say they want school choice. They say they don't like the way the public schools are run. Isn't that why we elect school board members and have a PTA? so parents and citizens can have a voice in how a local school is run? They say they want less government involvement in schools, but they are only too happy to receive a government check to send their child to a private religious school. I am all for Catholic schools, but I think they should remain privately funded church funded schools. THAT is your choice. If it's unaffordable, lots of churches will be happy to let you donate time doing a job at the church or school so you can work towards your child's tuition. I knew a couple who did just that, the kids' mom worked in the evenings cleaning up after Bingo night in exchange for a reduction in school tuition.

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