Ohio has the second largest voucher program in the nation, after Wisconsin. We now know that half the vouchers are going to students who never attended a public school and are not “fleeing” from a “failing school” in which they were “trapped.” They are taking advantage of public money to attend private and religious schools, which their families would be paying for absent the voucher program. So taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools. It also turns out that many vouchers went unused. The rhetoric about waiting lists is phony. There is no evidence that students in voucher schools outperform their peers in public schools. There is much evidence–from Milwaukee, Cleveland, and D.C. that they do not. But the legislators don’t care. What is their goal?

 

 

Even as Ohio’s private school vouchers remain dramatically underused, there appears to be no rush to re-examine their need.
…..

The state offers 60,000 EdChoice vouchers for children in struggling public schools, and fewer than one-third were used this school year, according to data released Friday by the Ohio Department of Education.

 
In addition, the state in 2013 created 2,000 vouchers for low-income kindergartners across Ohio regardless of the performance of the public district. For this school year, 2,000 low-income first grade vouchers were added.

 

The state is advertising that 2,000 low-income second grade vouchers will be added in 2015-16, although that will require an appropriation in the state budget.

 

Nearly 3,500 of the 4,000 available low-income vouchers were being used as of Friday.

…..
Students who use the traditional EdChoice vouchers to attend private schools essentially take their state funding with them. Marion City Schools lost more than 40 students to vouchers this year at a cost of nearly $160,000.
In fiscal year 2012, Ohio’s public schools lost $75 million to EdChoice vouchers.

…..

The majority of those students in Marion attend St. Mary Catholic School, and Principal Jack Mental hopes the increase in students eligible for vouchers will lead to an increase in voucher kids whom his school attracts. The private elementary school has about 42 students on vouchers, making up 40 percent of the total school population.

 

Mental said the school has had some enrollment struggles — it will suspend teaching eighth grade next year because of a lack of students — and he is unabashed in his desire to sell the benefits of vouchers to area residents. He said he will reach out to parents through advertising, direct mail and social media.

 

“This could be a lifeline to our school,” he said, noting that he hoped to add 30 new students through the voucher program for next school year…

If the low-income program continues to expand, it is expected to cost taxpayers more than $100 million each year by 2025-26.

 

The state offers 60,000 EdChoice vouchers for children in struggling public schools, and fewer than one-third were used this school year, according to data released Friday by the Ohio Department of Education.
In addition, the state in 2013 created 2,000 vouchers for low-income kindergartners across Ohio regardless of the performance of the public district. For this school year, 2,000 low-income first grade vouchers were added.

 

The state is advertising that 2,000 low-income second grade vouchers will be added in 2015-16, although that will require an appropriation in the state budget….

 

Kaleigh Frazier, spokeswoman for School Choice Ohio, said her organization has been doing consistent outreach through community events to share information about the program with families.

 

“What we see in the voucher program is steady growth every year,” she said. “We’re still finding there are many families that don’t know there are options available to them.”

 

The use of vouchers has grown from 3,141 in 2006-07 to 22,347 this school year. Of course the number of available EdChoice vouchers also has risen, from 14,000 in 2006-07 to 64,000 this year, including the low-income variation.