Confronting the Education Choice Voucher (CECV) Project

The Ed Choice Program (in theory):

The Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program provides students from designated public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools. The program also provides low-income students who are entering kindergarten through 12th grade scholarship opportunities.

 

(source: ODE website, retrieved 1/22/2020)

The Ed Choice Problem (in reality):

Ohio legislators’ reckless expansion of the EdChoice Scholarship voucher program is shifting millions of dollars from more than 1,000 public schools to private schools -  forcing local property taxpayers to subsidize private school tuitions. The voucher system, we were promised, was set up to give students and families opportunities to escape a failing public school or district. Now, students who never attended the public school at all can get a voucher for a private school of up to $6,000. By 2020-21, a program that started with a handful of public school districts will apply to 424 – including some of the state’s top-performing districts. And more Ohioans than ever who never voted for their tax dollars to subsidize private school tuitions will be doing just that. 

 
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Facts and Figures

These facts and figures can be used when discussing the EdChoice Voucher Program.  The goal is to be able to have a common language used, although these don't need to be used verbatim, it can help to give a common message among various districts.

Overall Message:

  • The EdChoice Scholarship voucher program has been recklessly expanded by Ohio legislators.

 

  • The EdChoice program has far outgrown its original intent – give students in the lowest performing public school districts an escape hatch.  Now, top-performing districts are subject to losing money to the vouchers. Meanwhile, students who have never gone to a public school are eligible for vouchers to pay for private school tuition with tax dollars meant for public schools. That was not the stated intent when vouchers were created.  

 

  • The issue isn’t vouchers per se. The issue is that when you give out this many vouchers for reasons never promised, inevitably local property taxpayers subsidize the private school tuitions for well-off families, which comes at a hefty cost to public schools and taxpayers.

 

  • The pro-voucher movement grew out of a simple, valid question: Why can’t poor kids have what rich kids have? We’ve gotten far away from that question with the current voucher system and in many cases taken precious resources away from poor kids to give to well off families.

 

  • This voucher expansion, if it isn’t sharply corrected very soon, will hurt thousands of public school districts – and will mean that more Ohioans than ever will be paying for private school tuitions with their public tax dollars. No Ohioan ever voted for that outcome.

 

  • Ultimately, all students deserve an equal opportunity for a quality education. The whole concept of public education is bringing a community together to fund the best quality education all of its residents, together, can provide. A voucher program like this one pits neighbors against each other, tearing apart those communities.

How the Expanded Vouchers Hurt Public School Students:

  • Under the EdChoice Scholarship voucher program, when a student gets a voucher to a private school, that student’s public school district pays $4,650 toward tuition for kindergarten through eighth grade and $6,000 toward private high school tuition.

  • In the first half of the 2019-2020 school year, Ohio school districts lost $330 million that was shifted to private school vouchers – up $47 million from last year.

  • Comparing year-to-year data, $62 million more taxpayer dollars went to vouchers in January 2020 than it did in January 2019.

  • New state laws dramatically expanded the number of schools being subject to paying for vouchers.

    • Here’s how: A school excels on the Ohio State Report Card with straight As on every measure but one. That school, though, gets a D or F in two of the three measuring years – 2014, 2018 or 2019 – on overall performance, student growth, graduation or the third-grade reading guarantee. That school is now designated a “voucher building.”

    • The expanded measurement is mind-numblingly complicated. And it has unintended consequences like Parkside Elementary School in Solon – one of the state’s top districts – being a voucher school.

  • Here’s another way the voucher program has been expanded. Under the new state law, a student who would attend a voucher school can get a voucher – even if that student never attended the public school. In other words, a law founded to help students escape a failing school now will pay the private school tuition of a student who’s only attended that private school.

    • With that change in the law, public school districts face losing millions of dollars for students they couldn’t possibly have ever “failed.”

  • The bottom line: 40 public school districts were subject to losing money to the voucher program in 2018-19. This school year, it’s 139 districts. Next year, it will be more than 400 – two-thirds of the districts in the state.

  • Quite simply, the expansion of the EdChoice voucher program has been a calculated effort on the part of some politicians and the people who fund their campaigns to force taxpayers to pay for private school tuition.

  • Proponents say that this is really the students’ money and it should follow them wherever they go, even if it’s to a private school. However, the money meant for public schools comes from all taxpayers. It’s no one single person or family’s money. It’s our money. And we should have a say in how it’s spent.

A Question of Accountability:

  • Local public taxpayer dollars are being taken away from public school districts – including high-performing districts – and given to private schools with no public accountability.

  • Parents who are paying private school tuitions can and should demand accountability from their schools. And they can vote with their feet – by leaving for some other private or public school. Vouchers are taxpayer dollars. And taxpayers deserve to know how the money is spent, just like they are in every public and charter school in the state. 

  • We should all respect a family’s decision to educate children in a private or parochial school. That decision then should be paid for with private funds – not money paid by taxpayers for public schools.

  • It is not the private schools’ fault for taking vouchers. It’s policy makers’ fault in Columbus for recklessly pursuing this policy with no evidence it actually helps students

  • Even the Fordham Institute – a pro-voucher organization – found that students who take vouchers perform worse on state tests than those from the same community who do not take the voucher.

  • In 8 out of 10 communities where there are voucher schools, students in the public school districts outperform the voucher schools in their community by 27 percentage points on average. Even in communities where voucher schools do better, they only do better by 9 percentage points – an all but meaningless statistical difference.

 
 

Marketing/Advocacy

THE COMPETITION IS HERE. 
STAY IN FRONT OF IT.

School Choice ended the monopoly of local school districts on K-12 education. Students–and their families–have a variety of education options available to them and, with the expansion of Ohio voucher programs, there are increasing incentives for them to pursue those other options. To attract and retain students–and their families–Ohio public schools must create an experience that is so good that families choose in, not out.

But school leaders don’t have to do this alone.

K12 Insight, a school research and communications firm, helps school leaders turn everyday interactions into exceptional experiences through a unique combination of cloud-based technology, industry-leading research, and engaging professional development. Below are a few free resources from K12 Insight to help you effectively compete for students in the age of school choice. If you are interested in learning more about how K12 Insight can partner with your district, please reach out to Joe Douglass using the contact information at the bottom of this section.

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A playbook for competing for students in an age of school choice, including 4 steps for capturing market share.

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Uncover 5 strategies to compete in the age of school choice and competition.

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See how Fort Wayne uses K12 Insight’s Let’s Talk! solution and surveys to increase community engagement, provide exceptional customer service, and build trust. 

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Learn how El Paso ISD in Texas is improving the customer experience to stem the tide of declining enrollment and school competition.

TURN EVERYDAY SCHOOL INTERACTIONS INTO EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out using the information below.


Joe Douglass
Regional Director of Sales
K12 Insight
703 | 542 | 9617
jdouglass@k12insight.com

Frequently Asked Questions

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Ed Choice News

RCO is compiling news from across the state of Ohio in an effort to notice that the expansion of Ed Choice Vouchers is not a localized event.  Feel free to send in other articles as you notice them in your area to us.  This is a statewide event that effects districts and taxpayers all across our wonderful state!

 

Ed Choice Legislation History and Current Proposals

Ohio's Ed Choice Voucher Program did not just happen overnight nor has everything happened recently.  Here you will see the historical legislation that has been passed over the years, as well as, current proposals that are or have been debated.  If the item is underlined, it has been hyperlinked to a website that will open in a new window.

 

Resources

Studies

See the full findings from the 2019 State of K-12 Customer Experience report—the first national study of its kind—which defines the link between effective community engagement and school success.

Websites
  • Innovation Ohio - 

    • Innovation Ohio is a unique organization that blends progressive public policy analysis and hard-hitting research with a single-minded determination to drive this information into the hands of the media, policymakers, and our allies to help influence policy decisions and shape public opinion.

  • K12 Insight - ​

    • K12 Insight is a diverse team of educators, entrepreneurs, students and parents.  They're strong believers in the mission of our nation’s K-12 schools.  K12 Insight is committed to helping schools turn everyday interactions with students, parents, teachers and staff into exceptional and memorable experiences.

 

Data/Graphs

The following graphs are courtsey of Innovation Ohio website.  The article can be found at: 

http://innovationohio.org/2020/01/27/ohio-school-voucher-crisis-four-charts/

 

Contact Us

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