Ohio bill would divert public funds to private schools

Across the country, states are cutting budgets for public school funding and increasing funding for private schools and community schools in the form of vouchers. Ohio is no exception. The Ohio Education Association is projecting a $1.8 billion loss in school funding over the next two years. While public school districts are struggling to stretch available monies to provide a quality education for its students, the Ohio House Education Committee passed HB 136.

HB 136 creates a new school voucher program, the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Scholarship Savings Program (PACT). This would consolidate and expand voucher programs already in place to private schools; it would make available vouchers to students whose family income is less than $95,000. Tax-supported vouchers are to be extended to all students who attend any school district in Ohio regardless of the district’s report card rating. Students currently attending private school would be allowed to be phased into the voucher program.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Greater Youngstown League believe that public funds should be used only for public schools. Taxpayer-funded schools need to be responsive and accountable to the taxpayer. The league believes that all students are entitled to a quality education.

HB 136 would redirect limited funds for public schools to private schools. Private schools are less transparent fiscally and academically and are accountable in some cases to shareholders. Private schools can selectively admit or reject pupils, while taking taxpayer funds intended for the education of all students.

HB 136 has been referred to Ohio’s House of Representatives for consideration. Please contact your representative in the Ohio House and urge him/her to oppose HB 136.

Ilona Labusch, Niles

The writer is a member of the board of directors of The League of Women Voters of Greater Youngstown.