Skip to main content

Report on Ohio Vouchers Overstates Benefits and Downplays Negatives

BOULDER, CO (February 21, 2023)—A recent report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute considers the impacts of vouchers as related to competition in Ohio public schools, increased racial segregation, and local district financial resources. It presents these three issues as the chief concerns of voucher critics and finds few harmful impacts.

In Michigan State University professor Joshua Cowen’s review of The Ohio EdChoice Program’s Impact on School District Enrollments, Finances, and Academics, he finds that the questions it asks are far too limited. While the report is methodologically sound for the narrow questions it poses, Professor Cowen contends that they are outdated with respect to current concerns raised by voucher critics, which focus on substantially decreased student achievement among students using vouchers.

The report also relies on more permissive standards for statistical inference than peer-reviewed articles would typically allow. Moreover, the Foreword, written by Fordham staff, gives the clear impression that the report is merely an effort to provide new data for privatization advocates, rather than to respond to legitimate concerns raised by voucher critics. The Foreword dismisses criticisms as “Chicken Little” and “sky-is-falling” histrionics, and in doing so undermines the work of the authors it hired to write the study.

Ultimately, Professor Cowen concludes, those who are ideologically predisposed to embrace voucher policies will doubtless find much to appreciate in this report. It does little, however, to assuage the primary concerns of those dedicated to serving children through community-based public education, and thus has little value in the debate over the use of vouchers as a public policy tool to improve education.

Find the review, by Joshua Cowen, at:

Find The Ohio EdChoice Program’s Impact on School District Enrollments, Finances, and Academics, written by Stéphane Lavertu and John J. Gregg and published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, at:

NEPC Reviews ( provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces high-quality information in support of democratic deliberation about education policy. We publish original research, policy briefs, and expert third-party reviews of think tank reports. NEPC publications are written in accessible language and are intended for a broad audience that includes academic experts, policymakers, the media, and the general public. Visit us at: