A piece of important education legislation was added in the late stages of the current biennium budget.
The expansion of the controversial EdChoice Scholarship Program should have been legislated extensively with opportunity for public comment and debate.
For those of you who are unaware, here is the explanation of the EdChoice Scholarship Program on the Ohio Department of Education’s website: The Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program provides students from underperforming public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools. The program also provides low income students who are entering kindergarten through sixth grade the same opportunity. The program provides up to 60,000 EdChoice scholarships to eligible students.
We can debate whether public taxpayer dollars should be distributed to private religious institutions that do not have the same regulations as public schools, but that is not the point of this article.
What people need to know about the expansion of this program is that the list of schools who qualify as “underperforming” has increased from around 120 buildings to over 1,200. Under the new criteria, 16 school buildings in Miami County qualify as underperforming. This identification comes from a flawed and inconsistent school district/building report card system. The schools on this list from Miami County are not failing our students!
We are blessed to have great schools in Miami County. I am proud to have worked for three of these school districts and to have served the awesome communities they represent.
More importantly, as a parent, I am extremely grateful that my two daughters attend one of these public schools. This county has great public school educators who are working tirelessly to provide a nurturing, supportive, and high-quality education for our students.
The EdChoice Program, as it currently exists, will have a profound, negative financial impact on our public school districts; thus, making it harder to provide high-quality education to all students. Additionally, the potential revenue that districts will lose to private schools will likely add to a greater burden to fund our schools through local tax dollars.
I encourage everyone who has benefited from the great public schools in Miami County to reach out to your state representatives and senators and let them know you oppose the voucher expansion and that they should support legislation to repeal the changes.
We have great schools in Miami County and we need to advocate for policies that support them.
Dave Larson is the superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling (937) 339-5100.