Ohio school districts refuse to compete with nuns
State Rep. Matt Huffman is trying to build support for a promising effort to expand private school vouchers to more working-class families in Ohio. In order to appease recalcitrant school districts, whose executives vocally oppose the measure, he may remove any benefit youngsters in wealthier districts could hope to get out of the program, however.
Originally, the bill would have granted vouchers of up to $4,626 based on a family’s economic circumstances. But managers in more than 300 school districts have complained about the possible loss of state and local funding, apparently afraid of competition for students’ dollars from the parochial school down the block. Huffman now wants to limit the amount of each voucher to the total per-pupil aid the child’s school district receives from the state. This means that children in property-rich suburbs, where a growing number of poor families are concentrated, could get just a few hundred bucks a year when they leave for a private school, while many thousands of dollars stay with the school district.
It’s hard to imagine a worse trade-off: Districts get to keep the cash without providing services, while poor and working-class parents in the ‘burbs are forced to scrimp and save even more than their urban counterparts to have some measure of control over their children’s education. Choice-friendly legislators and advocacy groups in Ohio should ask themselves, who are the state’s education dollars intended to benefit: school budget officers, or kids?
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About the Editor
Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow
Chris Tessone was a Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow and the Director of Finance of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He has strong interests in governance and education finance, especially teacher compensation and school facilities finance.
May 16, 2013