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10th Period: Ohio's Universal Voucher Bill Takes $1.13 Billion From Public School Kids to Subsidize Adults

Now that the Ohio Legislative Service Commission has officially costed out the so-called “Backpack Bill”, we know for certain that this bill has nothing to do with “rescuing” kids from “failed” public schools. It’s all about publicly subsidizing the adults who can already afford to send their kids to private school.

The LSC analysis proves definitively that the bill would instantly provide public funding to about 90,000 Ohio students who do not currently receive it. It would be through vouchers, education savings accounts, homeschoolers (including those being taught Nazi ideology) and other various devices all adding up to an additional $1.13 billion. All while the legislature is talking about massive tax cuts and continues to short-change the needs of the 90% of students in Ohio’s public schools.

These are not students who are leaving public schools. These are students who are already in private schools, whose parents can already afford private schools and who attend schools that are not audited by the state to ensure they are actually educating a single student we’re paying them to educate.

Sounds like a great idea to me! I mean, Ohio’s never had an issue with privately run schools billing the state for millions of dollars to educate kids they never actually had, right? Oh yeah, except for the ECOT scandal that was about 40% bigger than the biggest public bribery case ever brought in the state.

It would be one thing if Ohio’s private schools were doing an awesome job. However, we know that about 90% of the time, kids in Ohio’s public schools test better than students attending private schools in the same cities. We also know that the students taking vouchers are significantly more white than the communities they are from.

This Universal Voucher bill would put an additional $1.13 billion into a program that would provide taxpayer subsidies to adults who send their kids to unaccountable schools that perform markedly worse than Ohio’s public schools all while further segregating our kids and communities by race.

Because that’s exactly what Brown v. Board of Education stood for.

Oh yeah. One more thing. We can finally put to rest the idea that voucher programs like this don’t hurt public school kids. Because all this additional money for private school parents would come out of the pot of money meant to educate public school students.

It is impossible for the legislature to put an additional $1.13 billion into private school tuition subsidies and fully fund the fair school funding plan, which would cost just about as much to do.

All while cutting taxes.

But hey. What do I know.


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Stephen Dyer

Stephen Dyer is the Education Policy Fellow at Innovation Ohio. He also practices law in the Akron, Ohio area. Previously he was the State Representative for the ...