Private School Vouchers: The Ohio Lesson

As the Ohio House Education Committee is expected to amend a “Private School Vouchers For All” bill this afternoon, Innovation Ohio has released a detailed analysis of the current voucher system and its impact on students.

Twenty years of data show that lawmakers should be re-examining the current private school voucher system instead of exponentially expanding it, as Senate Bill 85 and its companion House Bill 200 would do. Any proposed expansion could have ruinous effects on kids and families in both voucher schools and local public schools.


 

Among the data revealed in the new Innovation Ohio report:

 

    • Vouchers now affect children in 83% of Ohio’s school districts.
    • This year, more than $310 million in public money will be sent to private, mostly religious schools through vouchers.
    • Including additional direct state payments and reimbursements made to private, mostly religious schools, more than $568 million in Ohio taxpayer money is going to support these schools.
    • Every Ohio student not taking a voucher, on average, loses $63 a year in state funding.
    • Local taxpayers subsidize vouchers with $105 million in locally raised money to make up for districts losing state funding to Ohio’s voucher programs.
    • Students who take vouchers perform worse than their public school peers on state assessments
      Some of the highest performing school districts in the state lose money and students to vouchers, turning the original intent of the program on its head.

Voucher expansion isn’t just here in Ohio. In President Trump’s proposed budget released in March, he and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have proposed a $1.4 billion voucher expansion nationwide beginning this fall, with an eye toward expanding it to $20 billion.

Lawmakers in Columbus and Washington must take heed of Ohio’s experience before the ideologues further push their misguided and failing voucher agenda.